SUDDEN death and the realisation that they are now just one game away from reaching the Varsity Cup final will act as a huge incentive for the Madibaz as they prepare for their toughest game of the season – against the high-riding Pukke on Monday.
Pukke have been the dominant team during the league stages of the competition, winning six of their seven matches and ending top of the table by three points.
The Madibaz, on the other hand, squeezed into the semis by ending fourth and winning four of their seven matches.
All that will count for nothing on Monday as the teams square off in what promises to be a mouth-watering semifinal where the stakes will be huge for both sides.
In the other semifinal, Ikeys clash with old foes Maties in what promises to be another hard-fought duel.
Success-hungry Madibaz coach David Maidza will ensure that his team are in peak mental and physical condition for what promises to be a brutal encounter at the Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds in Potchefstroom.
When the teams met in Port Elizabeth at the start of the season, the Pukke scored a 52-16 win which gives a good indication of the challenge facing the Madibaz on Monday.
In that game the Madibaz were behind 23-0 at the break and the writing was on the wall for the outplayed home team when the North West University outfit crossed for their fourth try early in the second half after indifferent defensive play by the PE side
The Madibaz enjoyed their best spell midway through the second period when never-say-die Michael Bernardt crossed for two tries in two minutes to make the scoreline look more respectable.
Late tries by Sylvian Mahuza and the irrepressible Luther Obi hammered the final nails into the Madibaz coffin as the visitors took their tally past the 50 mark.
On Monday, Pukke secured a first ever first-place finish in the league stages thanks to a hard-fought 24-20 victory over a determined University of Johannesburg (UJ) team.
Although Pukke had already secured a playoff spot, they were still looking for a victory against UJ who had picked up just one win before the last round of league fixtures in the competition.
Pukke were staring down the barrel deep into the second half having scored no points to UJ’s 12, but they came alive, scoring three quick tries with five minutes to go in the second half.
UJ were not done though as they scored late to make it a 24-20 game but it could easily have gone the other way as UJ laid siege to the Pukke line for five minutes into injury time only to finish centimetres short.
The determined UJ outfit showed that the Pukke are not invincible and the Madibaz will be ready to exploit any chinks in their armour in what promises to be a highly charged 80 minutes. – George Byron