Preview: Maties v UJ
MAROON MACHINE OR ORANGE ARMY: Maties will host UJ for the second consecutive week and will be confident ahead of the encounter following their emphatic victory in the final round-robin match of the Varsity Cup. Tauriq Ebrahim looks ahead.
Both sides had already qualified for the semi-finals by the time they met in Round Nine of the competition but both were chasing the right to host the knockout encounter. Maties claimed a 65-19 victory to secure the hosting rights by ending second on the log.
The result saw UJ's five-match winning streak come to an end to see them end the competition in third spot. Thus securing a return trip to Stellenbosch for the semi-final.
UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg believes the result came at the right time while he also feels that the experience of playing at the Danie Craven Stadium did more good than harm to his young team.
"I am a firm believer of getting humbled at the right stages [of a competition]. We made basic errors and they [Maties] did some extraordinary things, so we got what we presented on the field.
"We only had four players who played there [at the Danie Craven Stadium] before. So that has been the biggest gain for us as the players have now experienced that atmosphere. We gained a lot from that because we made early changes which gave everyone a chance to experience it [the atmosphere].
"It's a short turnaround but it's no longer a big issue for us [playing in Stellenbosch] and we can take on the challenge now as it will serve as motivation. It's a semi-final, we are the firm underdogs but we will stay close [to each other] and have a good time doing it.
"I think people must watch as we may just present something they [Maties] might not expect," Janse van Rensburg told rugby365.com.
Maties coach Hawies Fourie does not feel that his side may have shown too much of their cards and will continue with their standard approach even though he knows it will be a tougher encounter.
"It will be a new challenge because UJ will analyse the game and come back stronger, so we expect a much tougher game on Monday. They may have been in a bit of a comfort zone but that won't happen again. So we need to be ready and well prepared for them coming our all guns blazing.
"We have played this way all season, even if our execution wasn't that good. We definitely set a standard on attack [in Round Nine] as the display was nearly perfect but that is what we are working towards.
"There's a bit more added pressure [for the semi-final] but we will challenge the players to play their best and we need to continue to improve. We need to up our game at the breakdowns, our kicking game was not that good in the first half and UJ dominated us a bit in the scrums.
"I felt as though we did well on defence as UJ tested us early in the encounter but we soaked it up and managed to keep them scoreless. That's a big thing for us - to be under pressure and not concede any points in those early minutes," Fourie told rugby365.com.
The Danie Craven Stadium is expected to be another sell-out as the Stellenbosch students will look to advance to their second consecutive semi-final.
Prediction: UJ will be a completely different side on Monday and will put up a big fight. They have nothing to lose and are expected to be on the receiving end of another hiding. That will not be the case though as they will most certainly push Maties a lot further this time. UJ will need to silence the Stellenbosch crowd if they are to be successful. Maties have all the pressure on their shoulders as they are playing at home and have to contend with the weight of expectation. Experience is vital in these knockout encounters and that swings the match in Maties' favour. They have been here before and know what is needed to advance. Maties should win by at least 10 points.
Maties: 15 Craig Barry (captain), 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Theo Stapelberg, 9 Brendon Nell, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Stephan Streicher, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Johan Momsen, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Jacobus van der Merwe, 2 Craig Corbett, 1 Niel Oelofse.
Replacements: 16 Hendrik Luus, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Ruben De Villiers, 20 Saud Abrahams, 21 Paul De Wet, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Duncan Saal.
UJ: 15 Ewan Adams, 14 Peter-John Walters, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Jaco Fourie, 11 Godfrey Ramaboea, 10 Divan Nel, 9 Johan Esterhuizen, 8 Jo-Hanko De Villiers, 7 Leon Massyn, 6 Wian Conradie, 5 Adrian Bester, 4 Kevin Du Randt, 3 Nico Du Plessis, 2 Jannes Snyman (captain), 1 Dillon Bakos.
Replacements: 16 Le Roux Baard, 17 Kyle Kruger, 18 Chergin Fillies, 19 Kyle van Dalen, 20 Reinhardt Nothnagel, 21 Devon Mare, 22 Ronald Brown, 23 Carlisle Jordaan.
Referee: Vusi Msibi
Assistant referees: Morné Ferreira, Renier Louwrens
TMO: Johan Greeff
By Tauriq Ebrahim