DISPLAYING steely resilience the never- say-die Madibaz have put themselves back in the hunt for a coveted berth in the semifinals of the Varsity Cup rugby competition.
Their 19-9 victory over the defending champions Tuks in wet conditions has propelled the Madibaz into third spot on the log ahead of their final league match against the Shimlas in Bloemfontein on Monday.
After consecutive home defeats to the Pukke and Ikeys the Madibaz have regained their momentum and will enter the final stages of the competition with their confidence sky high.
After six matches the log standings are: Pukke (23), Ikeys (19), Madibaz (17), Tuks (16), Maties (16), Shimlas (13), University of Johannesburg (9), Wits (2).
With so little separating the teams nothing less than a win against the Shimlas will be good enough as the success-hungry Madibaz bid to nail a berth in the playoffs.
The other final round matches are Maties versus Tuks (Stellenbosch), Pukke against University of Johannesburg (Potchefstroom) and Wits against Ikeys (Johannesburg).
Madibaz coach David Maidza has emphasised that consistency is vital for his team’s title aspirations and they will need to be at their best to overcome a Shimlas side who have failed to live up to expectations this season.
The coastal teams have all made a charge up the standings and there were important wins for the Ikeys and Maties, leaving the competition wide open heading into the final week of league action. The Ikey Tigers ran in four tries against Shimlas to secure their first victory at home on the Green Mile this season and move into second place, just four log points behind pace-setters Pukke.
The Cape team scored three tries playing into the wind in the first half and then went on to claim the bonus point after half-time as they romped to a 25-5 victory. This result leaves Shimlas down in sixth place after starting the round in third position.
Torrential rain in the northern part of the country had a big say in the other three matches, as UJ and Tuks slumped to defeats at home, while Pukke were forced to work hard for their victory over Wits in Potchefstroom.
Defending champions Tuks suffered their second consecutive defeat at home, as the Madibaz ground out a crucial win which saw them move past the Pretoria side into third place on the standings. Tuks are now level on log points with three-time champions Maties who ended UJ’s hopes of making the semifinals this season with a comfortable 24-8 victory.
Points difference is all that separates Maties and UP-Tuks on the log, which sets up their showdown in Stellenbosch next week.
Pukke were able to maintain their position at the top of the standings, but they were made to work hard for their 16-8 win by a determined Wits side that is still looking for their first victory in the competition. – George Byron