Varsity Cup: Round 3 Selected Fixtures Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

So after enjoying a more than successful weekend of Six Nations picks a week ago, I was brought back down to earth with my less than satisfying Varsity Cup selections last Monday. With CUT and NNMU playing some brilliant rugby and Tuks looking like a fourth division club side, this competition is proving exceedingly hard to predict.

After two mediocre weeks of results, I’ve decided to change my betting strategy up a bit, which will be evident in this week’s verdict. Anyway enough blabbering about my personal under-achievements, and let’s move on to the action.

Monday 22 February

To Win (80 Mins)
UJ 1/100 | Draw 33/1 | CUT 14/1
UJ (-40.5) 17/20 | CUT (+40.5) 17/20
Our first previewed game of the week will see the University of Johannesburg take on this season's surprise package, CUT. The hosts come into this one off the back of a hard fought 31-36 victory over an impressive Pukke outfit while the visitors managed the upset of the round by beating Ikeys 10-9.

The narrow win was CUT’s first ever in the competition and it will have given the boys from the Free State a huge morale boost. I can see them arriving at the UJ Stadium full of confidence and ready to throw their bodies on the line. This could well backfire, however, if the red mist descends over a few of the Free Staters, then some of them may spend a bit of time in the naughty chair - otherwise known as the afkoelstoel.

While UJ’s performance last week wasn’t out of the top draw, it did show that they are capable of attacking from deep inside their own half. On the other hand, it also showed their susceptibility to unforced handling errors, which they will have to cut out of their game, otherwise, they may end up suffering the same embarrassing fate that Ikeys did.

I really like the look of UJ nine Johan Esterhuizen. He moves the ball well in both directions and has a decent boot on him. On the CUT side of things, there’s been a lot of talk about flanker Dean Rossouw. The 22-year-old fetcher loves getting stuck in at the breakdown and is also a strong ball carrier.

Verdict: UJ (-40.5) 17/20
I was going to go with both away sides to stay within the handicap but I honestly can’t see CUT losing the game by less than the -40.5 margin. Back the home side to surpass the -40.5 handicap at 9/10 .

To Win (80 Mins)  
Maties 2/9 | Draw 22/1 | UP-TUKS 33/10
Maties (-10.5) 17/20 | UP-TUKS (+10.5) 17/20
So from the hard fields of Johannesburg to the cushy grass of Stellenbosch we go. Our final previewed game for the Varsity Cup third round sees table-toppers Maties take on a less than impressive Tuks side. The hosts have returned a full 10 point haul from their opening two fixtures, while their opponents have only managed to grab two losing bonus points.

I’d be a very worried man If I was Pote Human. The former Griquas coach will have seen the footage of Maties dismantling CUT in the first round, and although they struggled to get going against NMMU last time out, they did manage to leave the Madibaz stadium with five points to their name. Conversely, Human’s side threw away a chance at claiming a five-point haul last time out when they went down by a solitary point to Shimalas at the Tuks Stadium. That defeat would have hurt Human’s charges, particularly when you consider how big a lead they had when the half-time whistle blew.

While Tuks are having one of their worst starts to a season ever, Maties have had one of their best. Their two bonus point victories have set them up quite nicely, and they look a solid unit. They were tested by the Madibaz last week, but hard fought victories like that often help galvanise a side. If they manage a win in this one, then they will be well on their way to claiming their fourth Varsity Cup title.

In terms of players to keep an eye out for, look no further than Maties' flanker Beyers de Villiers and UJ's fullback Craig Barry. Beyers is a non-nonsense flanker who leads from the front while Barry is an exceptional ball runner with a decent boot on him.

Verdict: Tuks (10.5) 17/20
I’m going to play it safe and back Tuks on the handicap here. They’ve got to come good at some point and while I’m not sure it’s going to be tonight, I’m not brave enough to bet against it. 

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