Varsity Cup: Round 3 Preview

Two players tackling a player

The Varsity Cup action continues with the third round of the tournament taking place on Monday the 12th of February.

Round 2 of the Varsity Cup proved to be quite a profitable one for our rugby writer who managed to go three from four with his tips. While it would have been a solid week for those who followed his tips, punters who backed defending champions Tuks to bounce back against Wits would have been left extremely disappointed as the title holders went down to the Witsies.

Last year's defeated finalists, Maties, had no such issues last week as they hammered Shimlas 56-21. The men from Stellenbosch will take on Tuks in the pick of today's action.


CUT v NMMU Madibas | Monday 12 February | CUT Stadium | 16:45

To Win (80 Mins)
CUT 5/1 | Draw 28/1 | 1/8 NMMU

Handicap
CUT (+19.5) 17/20 | NMMU (-19.5) 9/10


The first game of the day sees two of the tournament's minnows, CUT and NMMU, lock horns at the CUT Stadium. The hosts head into this one off the back of successive defeats, with their most recent loss being a 48-21 defeat to the impressive Shimlas. The visitors also head into this one off the back of a defeat as they went down 17-27 on home soil to Ikeys.

When these two sides met last year it was the Madibas who had the better of things as they ran out 40-14 victors. 2016 proved to be CUT's year, however, as they ran out 35-26 winners.

Verdict: CUT (+19.5) 9/10
This is probably the hardest game of the day to call. Both teams looked well off the boil last week. They have little to no defensive structure so we could be in for a high scorer here. Having said that, the handicap line just looks a bit high. As such, I'm on the CUT +19.5 line. 

Shimlas v Wits | Monday 12 February | Shimla Park | 18:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Shimlas 9/20 | Draw 25/1 | Wits 31/20
Handicap

Shimlas (-6.5) 9/10 | Wits (+6.5) 9/10

Next up it's a clash between the Shimlas and everyone's favourite underdogs, Wits. The hosts come into this one off the back of a heavyish defeat down in Stellenbosch which would have taken the gloss off their brilliant opening round victory over Tuks.

Speaking of Tuks, Wits managed to bag a win over the title holders last Monday to ensure they opened up their campaign with successive victories. The win was a massive one for the men from the University of Witwatersrand and left skipper, Constant Beckerling to proclaim that his side "played with enormous testicles'.

Wits actually managed to run the Shimlas close last season going down by just 26 points to 21. They come into this one in buoyant mood and it's proving tough for me not to back them.

Verdict: Wits (+6.5) 9/10
They delivered the goods against Tuks last week securing a substantial profit for me on the plus handicap line, as well as a nice little earner on the straight win. I'll once again be having my main play on the Wits plus and a more conservative strike on the straight Wits win. 

UCT Ikeys v NWU Pukke | Monday 12 February | UCT Rugby Fields | 18:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Ikeys 21/10 | Draw 28/1 | Pukke 3/10
Handicap
Ikeys (+8.5) 9/10 | Pukke (-8.5) 9/10


The penultimate game of the day will see UCT Ikeys front up to a Pukke outfit that will be fresh and raring to go having enjoyed a bye last week. The hosts for today's encounter managed to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Wits by bagging a 17-27 victory over the Madibaz. Unlike Ikeys, Pukke managed to grab a win n the first week as they ran out 70-7 victors over CUT.

The recent head-to-head results between these two side favour today's visitors with Pukke winning the 2017 encounter 20-15 and the 2016 fixture 6-22. The 2015 edition of the tournament was the last time UCT got the better of Pukke, as the men from Cape Town ran out 21-40 victors.

Verdict: Pukke (-8.5) 9/10
This line looks a bit too small for me. UCT's biggest attacking weapon is their scrum and Pukke should be able to front up at the set piece. My money is on the visitors nullifying UCT by dominating the scrum and subsequently winning the game. 

Maties v Tuks | Monday 12 February | Danie Craven Stadium | 19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Maties 1/16 | Draw 33/1 | Tuks 11/2
Handicap
Maties (-18.5) 9/10 | Tuks (+18.5) 9/10

That old adage of saving the best for last has certainly been heeded by the Varsity Cup brains trust for this round as our final fixture of the day will be a repeat of last year's final with Maties taking on Tuks. The hosts have got their 2018 campaign off to a flying start beating UJ 3-31 and Shimlas 56-21. Tuks have endured a polar opposite start to the season and head into this one off the back of defeats to Shimlas (17-19) and Wits (26-21).

These two sides met twice last year with Tuks winning both fixtures. They met on the opening day of the 2017 season with the game ending 13-9 in favour of Tuks, while their second encounter was in the final where Tuks won 28-21. 2016 was the year of Maties, however, as they beat Tuks 29-16 in the round-robin phase and 49-11 in the semi-finals.

Verdict: Maties (-18.5) 17/20
Tuks really look off the pace at the moment while Maties are the form team in the competition. As such, I can't help but have a go on the hosts clearing the handicap.


Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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