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Varsity Cup: Round 7 Preview
Our rugby scribes gives his verdict on the four Round 7 Varsity Cup games, which are being played on Monday the 13th of March.
We are three rounds away from the 2017 Varsity Cup semi-finals and it looks like one of the semis will be played out in Stellenbosch. The Western Cape based-Maties have a five point advantage over Tuks and Shilmas and are eight points off the fourth-placed, UJ. There is going to be an almighty scrap for the last semi-final place with six points separating fourth and sixth place.
Today’s fixtures see Ikeys take on UJ, in a game the former has to win to have any chance of qualifying for the next round, while Wits, who also need a win to keep their hopes alive, host NMMU. The two non-televised games see CUT take on Pukke and Shimlas square off with Tuks.
Ikeys v UJ | Monday 13 March | UCT Rugby Fields | 16:45
To Win (80 Mins)
Ikeys 33/10 | Draw 25/1 | UJ 2/9
Ikeys (+10.5) 17/20 | UJ (-10.5) 17/20
Ikeys will be hoping to use that notorious ‘Green Mile’ wind to their advantage when they host UJ later today. The visitors come into this one off the back of an eight-point victory over NMMU in which they failed to really find their rhythm, while the hosts enjoyed a bye and will be fresh and ready for this one.
When these two sides met in 2016 the game ended in a massive blowout for UJ, who ran out 63-0 winners. The 2015 matchup was a much more subdued affair with Ikeys edging it 8-0.
Verdict: Ikeys (+10.5) 17/20
Both sides will be desperate to bag the points here as the semi-finals are fast approaching. I quite fancy the hosts to upset the applecart. They look a far superior team to the one that was hammered in the opening few rounds. The sensible play here is to get on the Ikeys +10.5 at 17/20.
Wits v NMMU | Monday 13 March | Wits Rugby Stadium | 19:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Wits 2/9 | Draw 25/1 | NMMU 33/10
Wits (-10.5) 17/20 | NMMU (+10.5) 17/20
This could be an absolute humdinger of a clash with Wits still in the running for a semi-final berth. The hosts for this one were immaculate against the defending champions last week, running out 22-13 victors away from home. The result is made all the more impressive when you consider they were missing talismanic skipper, Warren Gilbert.
NMMU didn’t fare as well as their counterparts in Round 6 as they went down 36-28 to UJ. The Madibaz did show a hell of a lot of heart during the aforementioned defeat and I suspect we're in for another gutsy display from them this time around.
Verdict: Wits (-10.5) 17/20
The boys from the Witwatersrand have been simply brilliant this term. Their return to the top of the table in Varsity rugby was expected to end in misery. But here we are, three weeks away from the semis and Wits are still in the running. My money is on them increasing their chance of making the knock-out phase by getting one over NMMU.
CUT 15/1 | Draw 40/1 | Pukke 1/100
There’s no nice way of putting this: CUT have been horrid this year. While Pukke have had their issues in recent week’s, I can still see them putting a massive score over their hosts. Get on the visitors to win by 38 points or more at 17/20.
Shimlas 4/1 | Draw 28/1 | Tuks 1/6
This could be the best game of the round. And unfortunately, anyone who’s not at the Free State Stadium this evening will not witness it. Both sides have claimed some great results in recent weeks but I just feel Tuks are the more well-rounded side. Get on the away team to win it at 1/6.