Varsity Cup: Round 5 Preview

Two players tackling a player

There are four intriguing Varsity Cup fixtures set to go down on Monday the 26th of February.

It seems that this year's Varsity Cup is Maties to lose with the Stellenbosch outfit dominating proceedings. The Maties currently sit four points ahead of second-placed Wits, who they will play in Monday's opening fixture. Following the conclusion of that game, Ikeys will tackle Tuks and the Madibaz will square off with Pukke in the day's double-header. The round comes to a close with a clash between the Shimlas and UJ.

Wits v Maties 
Monday 26 February
Wits Rugby Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Wits 13/2

Draw 20/1
Maties 1/16

Wits (+23.5) 17/20

Maties (-23.5) 12/20

A battle between first and second is how we will kick things off this week with log-leaders Maties making the trip north to take on second-placed Wits. The hosts got back to winning ways last week as they beat the Madibaz by three points down in the Eastern Cape. This was the Witsies third victory of the campaign with their other two wins coming against Tuks (25-3) and Ikeys (26-30). This week's hosts have only suffered one defeat thus far, with the loss coming away against Pukke in Round 3.

Like Wits, Maties also managed to bag a win last week as they saw off a horrendous CUT outfit 75-12. The victory ensured that Maties extended their unbeaten run to four on the trot with their other three victories coming over UJ (3-31), the Shimlas (56-21) and Tuks (24-16).

Verdict: Wits (+23.5) 17/20 
When these two sides met last year the game ended 26-14 in favour of Maties. I'm expecting another tight affair here which is why I will be having a strike on the Wits plus handicap

Ikeys v Tuks
Monday 26 February

UCT Rugby Fields

To Win (80 Mins)
Ikeys 22/10
Draw 20/1
Tuks 3/10

Ikeys (+8.5) 17/20
Tuks (-8.5) 17/20

Next up we have a clash between winless Tuks and a Ikeys side that has already managed to claim more log points this season than they did in the whole of 2017. The hosts have enjoyed a very good start to the year with their victories over the Madibaz and NWU helping them to fourth spot on the log.

The visitors have been in horrid form this term and we need a minor miracle in order to secure a semi-final berth. There is some good news for Tuks fans, however, as their side managed to put in a solid shift against the mighty Maties last Monday, only going down by eight points.

Verdict: Tuks 3/10
Tuks looked a much-improved side last week and I'm expecting them to look even better this Monday. I'll be having a moderate strike on the away win here. 

Madibaz v Pukke
Monday 26 February

NMU Stadium

To Win (80 Mins)
Madibaz 5/1
Draw 20/1
Pukke 1/10

Madibaz (+15.5) 17/20

Pukke (-15.5) 17/20

The Madibaz will be looking for their first victory of the season when they take on Pukke. The hosts come into this one off the back of a narrow three-point defeat to Wits while Pukke make the trip off an 18-15 victory over UJ. The visitors currently occupy fifth spot on the log courtesy of their two victories over CUT (70-7) and UJ.

Pukke won last year's clash between the two sides 37-7. They also registered a 36-26 victory in 2015 and an 18-46 win in 2016. So history is certainly on their side.

Verdict: Pukke (-15.5) 17/20
I fear for the hosts here. Pukke have been able to run up the score when they have taken on defensively poor opposition with their 70-7 victory over CUT being a great example of this. I think they will put another mammoth score on the board here.

Shimlas v UJ
Monday 26 February

Shimla Park

To Win (80 Mins)
Shimlas 2/9
Draw 20/1
UJ 28/10

Shimlas (-10.5) 17/20
UJ (+10.5) 17/20

The Shimlas and UJ will bring the curtain down on Monday's proceedings when they lock horns at Shimla Park. The hosts currently find themselves in third place on the Varsity Cup log and could possibly leapfrog Wits into second-place if Maties get the job done earlier in the day. UJ, are a bit further back in the pecking order and currently reside in sixth place, some eight points off their hosts.

These two teams experienced contrasting fortunes last week with Shimlas beating Ikeys by five points and UJ going down to Pukke by three points. Recent head-to-heads between the two sides have tended to produce rather high scoring affairs with UJ winning the 2016 encounter 49-72 and Shimlas winning the 2017 fixture 29-47.

Verdict: Shimlas
I'm going to take the conservative route here and tip the Shimlas to win the game on the board as the handicap makes me rather uncomfortable. 

Written by Darry Worthington for

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