The 500th FNB Varsity Cup match will be fiercely contested by two attack-minded rivals gunning for top spot on the log.
FNB UCT will have a point to prove after their insipid performance last week. The Ikey Tigers leaked 58 points and eight tries in the defeat to FNB UFS Shimlas in Bloemfontein. As a result, they have dropped from first to third in the FNB Varsity Cup standings.
Meanwhile, FNB Maties have moved to the top of the log following their 20-12 win against the FNB NWU Eagles. They remain on course to secure a home semi-final, and perhaps a home final.
Will the FNB UCT Ikeys throw a spanner in the Maroon Machine, though?
History is against the Ikey Tigers, even on the Green Mile. And yet, as many of the performances over the past six weeks have shown, FNB UCT have a knack for defying the odds.
Perhaps they will take heart from the fact that they have overturned a half-time lead to win on three occasions. That stat is a testament to their conditioning and character.
That said, that stat also speaks to a series of underwhelming first-half performances. They will have to be more physical and more accurate when they host FNB Maties on Monday night – from the first whistle to the last.
FNB Maties will fancy their chances of claiming another important win. They have the pack to win the set pieces and to strike from close range.
Sean Swart has scored seven tries in 2022. The bustling hooker has proved difficult to stop at the back of the maul, and when executing the pick and go within the red zone.
Fullback Nevaldo Fleurs is ranked second in the tournament for points scored (61). There are a number of threats across the FNB Maties backline, but the success of those players will be linked to the performance of the visiting pack.
It will be interesting to see whether the FNB UCT Ikeys engage with their rivals in the set pieces and in the trenches, or whether they pursue a looser, high-tempo approach.
They have some outstanding broken-field runners, and a skilled game manager in flyhalf David Hayes. Fullback Duran Koevort has scored four tries and a total of 56 points to date.
The FNB Maties defence, however, may be equal to the task.
The men in maroon have conceded 138 points in six games – 50 of those in the heavy defeat to FNB UFS Shimlas in round two. Only FNB UP-Tuks have conceded fewer points in 2022.
STATS AND FACTS
• The FNB UCT Ikeys have trailed at half-time in four of their six matches this season, winning three of those four matches
• The FNB UCT Ikeys’ 58-7 defeat to UFS-Shimlas last week was the first match of the season in which they failed to score a four-try bonus point
• The FNB UCT Ikeys have only beaten FNB Maties once before at this venue in the FNB Varsity Cup (2014)
• The FNB Maties have won 12 of the previous 17 FNB Varsity Cup matches between these two sides
• The FNB Maties are chasing their 100th FNB Varsity Cup victory. No other team has won more matches in this tournament
FNB UCT IKEYS vs FNB MATIES (Monday, 19:00, UCT Rugby Fields, SuperSport channel 211)
FNB UCT Ikeys – 15 Duran Koevort, 14 Rihaz Fredericks, 13 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12 Rethabile Louw, 11 Ntokozo Makhaza, 10 David Hayes, 9 William Rose, 8 Jason MacLeod Smith, 7 Taariq Kruger, 6 Sipho Dyonase, 5 Thomas Meyer, 4 Reynhardt Crous, 3 Keagan Glade, 2 Keagan Blanckenberg, 1 Luthando Woji (c).
Subs: 16 Alex Castle, 17 Seth Christian, 18 Alizwa Mngqeta, 19 Mika Schubert, 20 Matthew Hamilton, 21 Imad Khan, 22 Kian Davis, 23 Thoubaan Gabriels.
FNB Maties – 15 Nevaldo Fleurs, 14 Mike Mavovana, 13 Waqar Solaan, 12 Taigh Schoor, 11 Sibabalwe Xamlashe, 10 Adriaan van der Bank (c), 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 Simon Miller, 7 De Wet Marais, 6 Gift Dlamini, 5 Matthew Gray, 4 Juan Beukes, 3 Vernon Matongo, 2 Sean Swart, 1 Rhynardt Rijnsburger.
Subs: 16 Jan-Corrick van der Watt, 17 Wian van Zyl, 18 Corné Weilbach, 19 Jesse Johnson, 20 Siyabonga Matanda, 21 Mckyle Volmoer, 22 Brendan Venter, 23 Marcqiewn Titus.