Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
The first week of the 2016 Varsity Cup did not disappoint with over 160 points being scored across the four matches. While the new rules -which include 7 and 9 point tries, marks from outside the 22, and a new scrum call from referees - may have had some fans of the competition wondering just what was going on. And now that we’re a bit more accustomed to the new law changes, week two should prove less of a minefield to negotiate than it’s predecessor.
The first televised game of the day sees NMMU host the top of the log Maties, while the second fixture sees Pukke take on UJ.
To Win (80 Mins)
NMMU (+13.5) 17/20
Maties (-13.5) 17/20
A try in the dying minutes of their game against UJ last week Monday condemned the Madibaz to a heartbreaking 12-19 opening round loss. David Madiza’s charges put in a great shift in weather conditions that were non-conducive to their brand of rugby. The Madibaz head coach has stated that he wants to get his charges implementing a high tempo game plan that sees the ball spread to their outside backs at every given chance. His players will have ideal weather conditions to display their attacking prowess this time around, with the local weather bureau predicting clear skies and a temperature of 18 degrees celsius.
While the Madibaz will be looking to demonstrate their attacking skills, their opponents already showed the South African rugby public what they are capable of doing with ball in hand during their game against CUT last week. The fixture saw Maties run in six tries on their way to a resounding 40-0 victory in Stellenbosch. With a huge opening day win under their belts, Hawies Fourie’s men are likely to come into this one with an air of confidence about them.
In terms of players to keep an eye out for, NMMU’s fullback Lindelwe Zunga could light this one up with his devastating pace and deft feet. While Maties' skipper Beyers de Villiers is a loose forward with a huge amount of talent and not much regard for self-preservation.
Verdict: Maties (-13.5) 17/20
The men from Stellenbosch were in fine fettle last week and if they can replicate that sort of form this Monday they should be able to clear the -13.5 handicap with consummate ease.
To Win (80 Mins)
Pukke (-8.5) 17/20
UJ (+8.5) 17/20
On to our final previewed game of the week, and this one has the hallmarks of a classic with the second-placed University of the North West hosting the third-placed University of Johannesburg. The home side put in a mesmerizing performance at the Tuks Stadium last Monday. Having gone into the game as slight underdogs, many thought Pukke would have done well to have walked away with a losing bonus point. Jonathon Moekuena’s side had other ideas, however. An early blitz saw Pukke take a 19-point lead that their opponents were never able to recover from. The opening salvo was extremely impressive and Pukke were well worth their 38-15 victory, but if you think Mokueana and his men are now resting on their laurels you’d be wrong. The former Blitzbokke star has reiterated to his men this week that the victory is only the first step on a long journey to Varsity Cup glory.
While Pukke managed an upset win last week, their opponents almost ended up suffering a surprise loss of their own against NMMU. UJ were miles away from their best and they will need to up their game tenfold if they are to upset the applecart today. They have a talented squad but things just didn’t click for them last time out. Handling errors and ill-discipline almost cost them big time and if these areas of their game haven’t been rectified in the build up to this one, then Werner Janse van Rensburg's men could suffer their first defeat of their fledgling campaign.
The two men to look out for in this one are Pukke flyhalf Barend Janse van Rensburg and UJ eight Jakobus Porter. The former was in inspirational form last week and demonstrated why he is considered one of the best flyhalf prospects in the country, while the latter is a wrecking ball of an eighthman who has exceptional leadership qualities.
Verdict: Pukke 2/7
Pukke really impressed me last week, while UJ didn’t look great. My money is on the hosts having made it two wins from two when all’s said and done tonight.
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