Varsity Cup 2018: Round 2 Preview

Two players tackling a player - Varsity Cup 2018 rugby

The second round of the 2018 Varsity Cup will take place on Monday the 5th of February. 

The opening round of the 2018 Varsity Cup threw up a massive shock with reigning champions Tuks going down on home soil to the Shimlas. The result is one which will worry the Tuks coaching staff particularly after title hopefuls Maties tore apart the UJ in Johannesburg. 

Maties fellow Captonians, UCT, couldn't make it a clean sweep for Cape Town as they went down to a Wits side who continue to revel in the underdog role. Elsewhere, Pukke managed to get their campaign off to a great start as they hammered a hapless CUT outfit.

We are set for another enthralling instalment of Varsity Cup action this Monday with The Madibaz taking on UCT Ikeys in the day's opener, while Maties take on Shimals and UJ tackle CUT in the 18:30 double-header slot. The final fixture of the round sees Tuks and Wits square off in a Highveld Derby.

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NMMU Madibaz v UCT Ikeys | Monday 5 February | NMU Stadium | 16:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Madibaz 1/3 | Draw 28/1 | Ikeys 22/10
Handicap
Madibaz (-7.5) 17/20 | Ikeys (+7.5) 17/20

The Madibaz, who enjoyed a bye last week, will get their 2018 campaign underway with a home fixture against an Ikeys team who will be still smarting from their narrow 26-30 defeat to Wits. Having taken a 26-16 lead into the final quarter of the clash, it looked like Ikeys were set to open the season with a win. Wits had other ideas, however, as two late Wits tries turned the game on its head.

While UCT will come into this one with a bit of psychological damage, the Madibaz will have no such issues as they enjoyed a solid preseason. The hosts will also have fond memories of their 2016 clash with Ikeys as they hammered them 8-36 down in Cape Town last season.

Verdict: Madibaz (-7.5) 17/20
I think the Madibaz may prove a handful at home this season. They will certainly have too much for a UCT side that seems to have learnt little from their dreadful 2017 campaign. 

Maties v Shimlas | Monday 5 February | Danie Craven Stadium | 18:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Maties 1/6 | Draw 33/1 | Shimlas 4/1
Handicap
Maties (-13.5) 17/20 | Shimlas (+13.5) 17/20

The two most impressive sides from the opening round of this year's tournament will clash at the Danie Craven Stadium. Last year's defeated finalists' Maties come into this one off the back of smashing UJ 3-31 last Monday. Their visitors also come into this one off the back of an impressive victory, as they saw off reigning champions Tuks 17-19.

When these two sides met last year the game ended in a massive blowout with Maties running out 12-60 victors at Shimla Park. While 2016 also saw Maties bag the win as they beat their opponents for Monday by a 35-14 scoreline at the Danie Craven Stadium.  

Verdict: Maties (-13.5) 17/20
This will certainly be an interesting clash with both sides laying down markers last week. I think I may well have underestimated this Maties side in my round 1 preview, and I certainly won't be doing that again. I'll be having a solid crack on the home side clearing the handicap here.

UJ v CUT | Monday 5 February | UJ Stadium | 18:30

To Win (80 Mins)
UJ 1/50 | Draw 40/1 | CUT 9/1
Handicap
UJ(-30.5) 17/20 | CUT (+30.5) 17/20

Next up its two sides who struggled in the opening round with UJ welcoming CUT to Johannesburg, The hosts head into this one off the back of a rather humbling 3-31 defeat to Maties, while CUT make the trip having gone down 70-7 to Pukke last Monday. 

CUT's aforementioned defeat to Pukke underlined their defensive struggles; they just can't seem to stem the flow regardless of what edition of the Varsity Cup it is. UJ also struggled to maintain their defensive shape, with Maties exposing gaping holes in their midfield time and time again.

Verdict: CUT (+30.5) 17/20
Despite both teams failing to reach double figures last week, I think we will see a high-scoring affair here. Both teams defend as well as Donald Trump leads a country so there will be massive holes for these two sets of backs to exploit. I'm gonna have a dabble on the CUT plus. 

Wits v Tuks | Monday 5 February | Wits Rugby Stadium | 19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Wits 22/10 | Draw 25/1 | Tuks 1/3
Handicap
Wits (+7.5) 17/20 | Tuks (-7.5) 17/20

The final game of the day will see Tuks take on Johannesburg opposition for the second week in a row as they clash with Wits. The hosts will be in a buyoant mood after they came back from the dead to beat UCT last week, while the visitors will still be licking their wounds from last week's shock home loss to Shimlas.

Last week's victory over the Ikeys was your prototypical Wits performance, with the men from the University of the Witwatersrand defending like Trojans and attacking with little compromise. I was rather worried that Wits would struggle without former fly-half Warren Gilbert but young Christian Humphries had a solid showing at ten. He'll need to shine again as Tuks will be a much tougher nut to crack.

Verdict: Wits (+7.5) 17/20

I'm going left field with this one and have a small strike on the home win. My main play, however, is Wits on the +7.5 line at 17/20. 

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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