The Varsity Cup tournament has reached the business end with the University of Stellenbosch (Maties) taking on University of Pretoria (Tuks) and University of Cape Town (Ikeys) against University of the North West (Eagles) in anticipated semi-finals on Friday.
Give the nature of how confidently the four teams played during the early stages of the tournament, fans must expect thrills and spills during the two semi-finals that will be taking place at the Tuks Stadium as they will be looking to book their places in the final.
University of Stellenbosch (Maties) vs University of Pretoria (Tuks)
Maties are slight favourites going into this highly anticipated North-South derby that has been played 22 times in Varsity Cup history including three matches at the semi-final stage.
The Maroon Machine won all the previous three semi-finals against Tuks by an average score of 45-23 and it must also be remembered that Maties won this year’s Round 4 clash which ended in a score of 31-24.
Tuks flyhalf Zander du Plessis, who has attracted interest from professional clubs in South Africa because of his highly impressive performances, goes into this match as the tournament’s top point-scorer with 128 while flanker Eduan Lubbe has scored five tries.
Maties coach Drikus Hancke, who is expecting both sides to “bring a lot of intensity and passion” to the match, will be looking at the brilliance of powerful hooker André-Hugo Venter to cross the line on the attack while flyhalf Christopher Schreuder who is his team’s top point-scorer with 49.
Pick: Maties Wins at 0.60 at BetXChange
University of Cape Town (Ikeys) vs University of North West (Eagles)
This will be the third Varsity Cup semi-final meeting between Ikeys and Eagles, the Capetonians won by a point in 2008 and the Eagles by two points in 2009.
The Ikey Tigers beat the Eagles 42-36 in their Round 8 encounter this year before going on to top the log for the first time since the inaugural and the Eagles snuck into the semi-finals after beating Central University of Technology (CUT) in their last league-stage fixture.
Ikeys have been the trendsetters this season from the moment they ended Maties’ 25-match unbeaten run in the opening round and they have been ruthless on attack having achieved seven try-scoring bonus points from eight matches.
Fullback Athi Gazi and winger Rethabile Louw have both crossed the whitewash on six occasions while their energy has been effectively directed by flyhalf James Tedder who has scored 105 points.
For the Eagles, hooker Gustav du Rand and loose forward André Fouché have been stalwarts during the season with the former scoring eight tries while impressive flyhalf Keagan Fortune has contributed 62 points to their cause.
Pick: Ikeys Wins at 0.16 at BetXChange