IT will be a case of make or break for the Madibaz when they clash with desperate bottom-of-the-table Wits in a crunch Varsity Cup rugby match in Johannesburg tonight (kick-off 4.45pm).
After crashing to a heavy 52-16 defeat against Pukke last week the Madibaz have slipped to sixth place in the log and know that nothing less than a win will be good enough to keep their semifinal hopes alive.
Though Wits are bottom of the log with just a single point to show from their opening four outings, they will have their tails up after a fighting display against Maties in their last outing.
Despite the 18-15 defeat, there were many positives for the visitors who put up a brave display against the three-time champions in Stellenbosch.
Wits coach Andy Royle said his team had played out of their skins to be competitive against Maties.
“We will be hosting the Madibaz our next game, so hopefully home-field advantage will give us that performance boost we need. That and a few 50/50 calls going our way might just give us the edge,” Royle said.
“We have managed to front up in most of the games, but our achilles heel at the moment is our attack. At the end of the day, it is what it is and we need to make the best of a difficult position.”
“All I can ask of my players is to remain focused, execute the game plan, keep discipline and up the intensity over the full 80 minutes. If we can do that, we are in with a shout on Monday night.”
Madibaz coach David Maidza said his team was determined to get back on the winning track in Johannesburg.
“We were outmuscled, outplayed and outsmarted by Pukke. Our opponents got all the basics right and did everything they were supposed to do.
“There’s not a chance that we’re going to drop our heads now. It’s going to be up until the last game and we have to play.”
He said he would not accept another sub-par performance.
“The players know what is required of them – that we never lie down. I don’t think we can play any poorer than we did on Monday.
“We know we’ve dug ourselves into a bit of a hole and it’s our responsibility as a team to get ourselves out of that.
“We’ve just got to make the most of where we are at the moment and concentrate on the next game against Wits.
“We must make sure that we prepare thoroughly and come away with nothing less than a win.”
Versatile EP Kings player Kayle van Zyl has been brought into the Madibaz side at fullback and Jarryd Buys moves to flyhalf to give kicker Gavin Hauptfleisch a well-deserved rest.
Madibaz: Kayle van Zyl, Ayabula Dlepu, Michael Bernardt, Devon Lailvaux, Yamkela Ngam, Jarryd Buys, Daniel Acker, Timothy Agaba, Marcel Groenewald, Christopher Cloete, Louis Fourie, Stefan Willemse, Simon Kerrod, Martin Ferreira, Roy Godfrey (captain). Replacements: Jody Reyneke, Abongile Mnyaka, Rob Louw, Andre Barnard, Gavin Hauptfleisch, Andile Jho, Sinakho Mafu, Christie Lawrence.
Wits: Ruhan Nel, Mandla Dube, Divan Ferguson, Brent Crossley, Nkuli Gamede, Ashlon Davids, Mathew Torrance, Jason Fraser, Senna Esterhuizen, Thato Mavundla, Rinus Botma, Devin Montgomery (captain), Kelley Ferdinand, Ashley Kohler, Hannes Ludick. Replacements: James Marx, Kyle Wood, Conor Brockschmidt, Peter van Biljon, Rendani Ramovha, Ish Nkolo, Joshua Jarvis, Gideon Muller.