DESPITE being out of contention for the top placings, NMMU Madibaz and Rhodes will be looking for strong finishes when the inaugural Varsity Cup men’s hockey tournament ends in Johannesburg this weekend.
The final round of the league phase will be played tomorrow, with NMMU on 14 points after six matches and out of the running for the top four.
The sides in contention for the semifinals – University of Johannesburg (UJ), Stellenbosch (Maties), Pretoria (Tukkies) and Free State (Kovsies) – all have 20 points and have qualified for the top playoffs.
All that remains now is to see in what order they finish after tomorrow’s games and here NMMU and Rhodes will have roles to play.
The Madibaz, who have lost three matches, won two and drawn one so far, take on Tukkies and a strong showing there will put them in the right frame of mind for their remaining matches.
Even though they cannot catch the top four, a win over Tukkies would provide encouragement for an NMMU side who have been competitive against all the teams in the tournament.
Rhodes prop up the bottom of the log, but will have relished the chance of gaining exposure against some top hockey varsities.
They showed what they have learnt by drawing 1-1 with Wits last weekend and will be determined to do well this weekend to move away from the bottom of the log.
The fixtures at UJ are:
Tomorrow: 10am: Rhodes v Maties; 11.45: Kovsies v UCT; 1.30: Tukkies v NMMU; 3.15: UJ v Wits
The play-offs will take place on Sunday and Monday
ýThe latest log is (goal difference in brackets): 1 UJ 20 (14), 2 Maties 20 (8), 3 UP Tuks 20 (8), 4 Free State 20 (6), 5 NMMU 14, 6 UCT 7, 7 Wits 6, 8 Rhodes 4
THIS week’s EP premier league fixtures are:
Men Sunday, 4pm: Gelvan Hurricanes v Pirates Bluebeards at KC March; 5.30pm: Old Grey v Lakeside Cavaliers at KC March
Saturday, 4.15pm: Mecer NMMU B v Rhodes at NMMU; 5.45pm: Uitenhage v St Peters at KC March; 7.15pm: Old Collegians v Mecer NMMU Madibaz at KC March
Sunday, 2.30pm: Mecer NMMU Madibaz v NMMU B at NMMU; Rhodes v Gelvan Tornados at Rhodes
– Neale Emslie