It is a record-equalling fourth consecutive FNB Varsity Shield final for FNB CPUT when they face off with FNB UWC at the UWC Sports Stadium tomorrow. Kick-off is at 15:30.
They lifted the trophy in 2019, beating FNB Madibaz 32-28 (watch highlights HERE), and in 2021 with a 30-26 victory over FNB WSU (watch highlights HERE). Last year they came agonisingly close, losing 27-28 against FNB UFH. (No final was played in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.)
CPUT head coach Alastair Theys has been consistent in preparation ahead of each match this season. The pressure on a team often fuels sides to bring out their best, but Theys feels that doing things differently ahead of a knock-out match or final, adds unnecessary pressure to the players.
"Nothing has changed, we kept it the same this week as we have in previous weeks. Once you idolise a game, like a final, which I will admit is a big one, it adds unwanted pressure to the players who are already naturally feeling pressured in some way or form.”
Theys does not think his charges are heading into the final completely as underdogs despite the home-ground advantage or faultless record UWC has ahead of the 12th Varsity Shield final.
"Yes, they do have the extra edge over us, but we have been to the last three finals in this competition. While they are the firm favourites, there is a natural expectation from CPUT to win. People expect CPUT to win in finals, I could see and hear how disappointed a lot of people were last year when we were mere seconds away from claiming the title for a third successive time."
The public can expect to see a calm CPUT outfit tomorrow, says CPUT captain Keanan Solomons.
"This is what worked for us in the semi-final, so we will stick with this. We had a rough start to this campaign, especially in the pre-season training, but that didn't stop us from believing in what we want to achieve."
Belief and faith in each other have been two of the pivotal points for the two-time champions, and while Solomons believes his charges have what it takes to upstage UWC, the loose forward is not allowing it to make them too comfortable.
"We never stopped believing, and that is positive on our side. Everyone worked hard during the preparation phase and the year and we will do everything in our power to get rewarded for the hard work and commitment."
Points for: 305
Points against: 151
Top try scorer: Keanan Solomons – 6
Top points scorer: Linton Maritz – 40
FNB CPUT: 15 Stadler Caine Martin, 14 Hartogh Heinrico Keastin, 13 BloysIwaan, 12 Alexander Darren Ewaan, 11 Maritz Linton Shawn, 10 Maseti Oyintando Honour, 9 Engelbrecht Hugan, 8 van der Heever Roland Leonard, 7 Solomons Keanan Matteo, 6 Klaasen Ché Oliver, 5 Kubheka Lungelo, 4 Salman Anenceba, 3 Mafenyana Masivuye, 2 Shasha Duke (Shakes), 1 Josephus Jacques-Lynn Graham.
by Lyndon Julius