MADIBAZ head coach David Maidza wants rugby fans to turn the NMMU Stadium into a fortress for his team when they clash with the Pukke in a crunch Varsity Cup showdown tonight (7pm).
“We encourage the whole of PE, especially the students, to come and ‘back their boytjies’ and make this stadium a fortress for the Madibaz,” Maidza said.
Licking their wounds after surrendering unbeaten records last week, both teams know the margins for error will be small as they attempt to map a path to the quarterfinals.
Last week, the Madibaz went down 26-13 to the Ikey Tigers while the Pukke were beaten 31-21 by the Maties in front of their home fans in Potchefstroom.
Just two log points separate the top four teams and champions Tuks, the only team yet to lose a game this season, lead the way, with the chasing pack breathing down their necks.
Tuks will be up against the fourth-placed Ikeys, who are coming off two big away wins against Maties and the Madibaz, at 4.45pm in Cape Town today.
Missed chances proved costly for the Madibaz last week and they will have to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes their way tonight against a wounded Pukke outfit. When they thrashed the Maties 45-29 on the opening day of the season, the Madibaz employed their powerful driving maul to good effect and it could prove decisive again tonight.
Madibaz fullback Jarryd Buys has returned from injury and takes the No15 jersey from Donovan Marais, while Stefanus Booysen gets a start at inside centre in place of Andile Jho. Jho moves to the bench alongside utility forward Wade Elliot, who makes way for Marcel Groenewald at blindside flank.
Maidza said team management had opted to make minimal changes to the squad that went down to the Ikeys
He said his side had been on the attack and trailing by five points when UCT took advantage of a three-man overlap to score an intercept try that killed off the game in the dying minutes.
“These situations happen. We have to take lessons from them and keep looking forward to the next game to fix our errors and improve on those facets we were poor in.”
He said his players were looking forward to taking on the Pukke, who are second in the standings and just one point ahead of his charges.
“We hope it will be a good spectacle and want to thank everyone who’s behind us.”
In the Varsity Shield, champions CUT will be looking to extend their unbeaten run which stretches back to 2012 when they host Fort Hare in Bloemfontein.
Fort Hare have already shown they will be no pushovers this season by beating the UKZN Impi in Durban, but they will have to produce a special performance if they are to get the better of the high-flying Ixias.
The teams are
Madibaz: Jarryd Buys, Tythan Adams, Michael Bernardt, Stefanus Booysen, Yamkela Ngam, Gavin Hauptfleisch, Daniel Acker (vc), Timothy Agaba, Marcel Groenewald, Christopher Cloete, Louis Fourie, Stefan Willemse, Simon Kerrod, Martin Ferreira, Roy Godfrey (captain). Replacements: Jody Reyneke, Abongile Mnyaka, Wade Elliot, Andre Barnard, Ivan Ludick, Andile Jho, Yabula Dlepu, Christie Lawrence.
Pukke: Still to be named.