KEVIN VAN DER LIST
Tuks and NMMU will have it all to play for in their sixth-round clash at the TuksRugby Stadium on 12 March, with both teams still in contention for a semi-final spot in this year’s Varsity Cup.
Tuks have to finish in the top two if they want a home semi-final and NMMU will need to win to keep their chances of staying in the competition.
Tuks will be confident but cautious going into the game. Confident because they are coming off a big win against Shimlas, but at the same time looking to seal the deal in a convincing fashion. Tuks will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record against NMMU, having never lost a Varsity Cup game against the side from Port Elizabeth.
Although Tuks won their previous game 48-18 against Shimlas, they once again failed to reach their full-potential with mistakes still hampering full scoring opportunities.
It won’t be smooth sailing for Tuks on Monday night as they have lost a few of their star players to the Vodacom Cup.
Scrum half, Lohan Jacobs and Wesley Dunlop, Tuks’ reliable and in form fly half, will both be unavailable for Tuks.
Dunlop’s form has been impressive this season and his successor, Willie de Plessis, will have big boots to fill. Jacobs will be replaced by Clayton Stewart.
NMMU will also be without a few crucial players due to injury. Charlie Purdon, Ross David-Anderson and Jaco Otto will miss out due to injury. Replacing them is Anton Verster, Gareth Hartley and Thomasau Forbes, respectively.
Tuks will be showing no signs of complacency going into the clash despite NMMU only having won two of their five matches, whilst Tuks have won four of their five games. “We can’t take anything for granted as our next opponents (NMMU) are still in semi-final contention,” said Tuks 1 coach Nollis Marais.
Tuks have continually stated that they are looking to peak at the right time in the competition. As the penultimate game of the round robin stages, Tuks will seek to get their momentum underway and iron out any problems still keeping them back, in order to qualify for the semi-finals.
Marais admitted that his team has not yet hit its straps. He was quoted on the TuksRugby website as saying: “We are not blind to our own shortcomings as it has been our motto since day one – to never be content with any performance. There is always room for improvement. We will certainly look at the factors hindering our momentum and continuity as we still have a lot of hard work ahead if we want to ensure a home semi-final.”
He also said that Tuks cannot afford to lose any focus and that they will have to step up every aspect of their game.