We preview the much-anticipated 2017 Varsity Cup Final being contested by Tuks and Maties on Monday the 17th of April.
After two and a half months of pulsating rugby action, we have reached the 2017 Varsity Cup Final. The showpiece event, unlike in past editions of the tournament, will be contested by undoubtedly the best two sides to have taken to the field this year. Both Maties and Tuks only lost a solitary game during the round-robin phase. On top of this, these two sides played the most attractive rugby of all the sides in the tournament, with their huge positive points differentials testament to this.
It must be remembered that this is finals rugby, and that means we should be in for a rather close fought affair at the Tuks Rugby Stadium this Monday.
Tuks v Maties | Monday 17 April | Tuks Rugby Stadium | 19:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Tuks 9/10 | Draw 22/1 | Maties 9/10
The men from Pretoria have been nothing short of sensational this term, scoring 347 points while only conceding 122. While these statistics alluded to a rather adventurous style of play, Chris Massyn’s side are capable of reverting to a territorially-based game plan with fly-half Tinus De Beer’s educated boot becoming the focal point in the Tuks armoury.
One area where Tuks have been found wanting during the season is in defence, especially in the midfield. If the Pretoria-based side produces a similar missed tackle count to their season average – they have averaged between 10 and 11 missed tackles per game this term – the Maties backs could have somewhat of a field day.
While the hosts have been somewhat susceptible on defence, their giant forward pack have dominated the set piece collisions throughout and were the catalyst for Tuks’ 13-9 victory when these two sides met during the round-robin phase of the tournament. We can expect a similar no-holds bar effort from the Tuks big men this Monday with the likes of Chris Massyn, Andrew Beerwinkel and Aston Fortuin sure to make an impact.
Like their opponents, Maties have produced some eye-catching rugby this year and have the stats to back it up. The men from Stellenbosch have scored 346 points thus far – one fewer than Tukkies – while only conceding 143. Their electrifying brand of rugby has been built around the centre pairing of Michael Haznar and Chris Smit. The former is in the mould of EW Viljoen while the latter is a no-nonsense inside who loves to make and take contact.
Another man to keep your eye out for tonight is Maties eight, Devon Nash. The loosie was prominent for his side during their semi-final clash against UJ, linking play and making a real nuisance of himself at the breakdown.
This will be Maties’ seventh appearance in a Varsity Cup Final. They have a healthy record winning three out of the six they’ve played, although, it must be noted that all three of these victories came at home.
Verdict: Tuks 9/10
Don’t expect these two sides to replicate the free-flowing rugby they did during the round-robin phase as there’s simply too much on the line. My money is on Tuks edging it by the narrowest of margins in a low scoring affair.