Varsity Cup 2016: Semi-Finals

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



Rugby fans are in for a treat this week with an absurd amount of games set to take place. Our first port of call for the week are the Varsity Cup semi-finals which take place this afternoon and evening.

The first fixture of the day will see Werner van Rensburg’s UJ take on Jonathon Mokeuna’s NWU-Pukke at the UJ Stadium. That game is followed by a clash between arch rivals Maties and Tuks at the Danie Craven Stadium.

FNB UJ v FNB NWU-Pukke | Monday 4 April | UJ Stadium | 16:30

To Win (80 Mins)
UJ 4/10 | Draw 25/1 | PUKKE 18/10
Handicap
UJ 17/20 (-6.5) | PUKKE 17/20 (+6.5)
Despite having never made an appereance in a Varsity Cup final, UJ will come into this one as strong favourites. They have only lost a solitary game this season and defeated Pukke by five points during the round-robin phase of the tournament.

While history strongly favours Pukke, they know they will be hard tasked to win this one. Their opponents have played a fantastic brand of rugby and will have the psycholigical edge having beaten Pukke on the 15th of February.

The key man for Pukke will be Rhyno Smith. The pivot has been in immaculate form racking up 54 points during the round-robin phase of the tournament. His opposite number Divan Nel has also been in great points scoring form. The flyhalf has scored 82 points thus far and his ability to control a game with his educated boot could well secure UJ’s first appearance in a final.

Verdict: UJ
My money is on the Johannesburg side coming out on top here. They have a talented squad that are more than capable of seeing off an average Pukke outfit.

FNB Maties v FNB UP-Tuks | Monday 4 April | Danie Craven Stadium | 19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Maties 2/7 | Draw 25/1 | Tuks 26/10
Handicap
Maties 17/20 (-8.5) | Tuks 17/20 (+8.5)
To say this is an epic encounter is a huge understatement. While Maties have been the dominant force this season and Tuks haven’t really been at the races, it’s likely to be a rather tight affair at the Danie Craven Stadium this evening.

The away side managed to scrape through to the semi-finals by the skin of their teeth. Having endured a poor start to the season - that saw them lose their opening three matches - Tuks have made a brilliant comeback. The midseason break – due to protest action – seemed galvanise the squad and the men from Pretoiria went on to win their remaining four games and secure a spot in the semis.

Maties have been the form team in the competition. Their only loss came in the final round-robin match against UJ and was due to coach Hawies Fourie electing to field a second string side in order to give his stalwarts a week to recuperate. Fourie’s men will also have the psychological edge for this one having beaten Tuks by 29 points to 16 in their round robin clash.

Verdict: Maties
My money is on Maties winning this one. While Tuks have shown improvement in recent weeks, I still think the men from Stellenbosch are the better side.

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