Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
After a fortnight of inertia, South Africa’s premier inter-varsity rugby competition makes a return this week. The first televised game of the day sees a clash between high-flying UJ and a Tuks outfit who are currently rooted to the foot of the log. That match is followed by a Cape derby between table-toppers Maties and the sixth placed Ikeys. Both fixtures will be played at the Soccer City Stadium due to security threats.
Monday 14 March
To Win (80 Mins)
Maties 1/6 | Draw 22/1 | Ikeys 9/2
Maties (-13.5) 83/100 | Ikeys (+13.5) 83/100
There will be no love lost when these two sides take to the field this afternoon. The duo have played out some classic matches, including two finals, since the inception of the Varsity Cup in 2008. Both teams have been traditional powerhouses in the tournament, but it seems that Maties will have the upper hand this year.
The men from Stellenbosch have enjoyed an almost flawless start to the season, winning all three of their fixtures and picking up a bonus point in two of the three games. Ikeys certainly haven’t reached the same lofty heights as their biggest rivals. The UCT outfit are yet to win a game this season and are coming off the back of a 6-22 hammering in front of their home faithful, at the hands of Pukke.
It’s rather hard to choose a Maties player to watch as they have all performed so admirably this season, however, fullback Craig Barry is likely to stand out today. The youngster is a prodigious talent who has racked up quite a few Varsity Cup caps over the past few years. He’s lightening quick and reads the game brilliantly. On the Ikeys side of things, scrumhalf Dylan Tilbury is certainly capable of setting this game alight. He’s got a solid pass on him and loves to attack the fringes.
Verdict: Maties (-) 9/10
UCT have been absolutely dire this season and I expect that they will end up on the wrong side of a large scoreline once again today. Back Maties to clear the – 13.5 margin at 83/100.
To Win (80 Mins)
UJ 5/10 | Draw | Tuks 16/10
UJ (-4.5) 9/10 | Tuks (+4.5) 9/10
This is probably one of the strangest situations Tuks have found themselves in since the tournament came about. The Pretoria-based outfit have generally entered this competition as one of the favourites to lift the cup – they were actually priced up near the top end of the betting stakes before round 1 again this year – however, they are struggling to repay the bookies' faith in them.
Like Ikeys, Tuks are yet to win a game this term. They’ve also been handed some heavy defeats so far this season, going down by 23 points to Pukke in the opening round and by 13 points to Maties last time out. Those heavy defeats have left them anchored to the bottom of the Varsity Cup log.
UJ have enjoyed a much more positive start to their 2016 campaign than that of their opponents. The men from the Johannesburg have won all three of their fixtures thus far, and are only two points off log leaders Maties. They’ve played a somewhat conservative brand of rugby which is strangely reaping rewards in a competition that is notoriously open-ended. They come into this fixture off the back of a hard fought 14-0 victory over a much improved CUT outfit.
Both sides possess some really exciting backs in their ranks, but with this game likely to be a battle of attrition, I think it’s fitting that we focus our attention on the forwards. Tuks prop Andrew Beerwinkel is likely to have a large impact. The big man turned out in the Currie Cup for the Bulls last term, and that experience of taking on some of the country’s foremost scrummaging specialists would have done him a world of good. He’s a prop who prides himself on his scrummaging ability, and while he’s not the quickest around the park, he is capable of making the occasional big hit on any unfortunate soul who runs into his defensive channel. UJ’s player to keep an eye on for this one is athletic lock Aston Fortuin. The twenty-year-old is an extremely mobile lock who has a phenomenal work rate. He’s also a solid line out option.
Verdict: UJ 5/10
My money is on the men from Johannesburg winning this Highveld derby. Tuks will turn the corner at some point but I think UJ’s conservative approach will them enable them to come up trumps here.
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