Preview: UWC v UFH
VARSITY SHIELD FINAL: All indications are that UWC is the favourites to claim the title this year but they are up against UFH - the only team to have beaten them this season. Tauriq Ebrahim looks toward the final.
UFH claimed a nail-biting 32-31 victory in Round Two but will need to produce a better second half performance should they claim an unlikely victory this time around. The Alice-based students were kept scoreless in that second half, after heading into half-time with a 31-5 lead.
UFH coach Lumumba Currie stated that there was no room for complacency.
"We are not complacent at all. They had a good comeback in the second half in Alice and kept us scoreless. So we know that we have to try and up or game for this one. We have to perform better than what we did the last time we played.
"We are confident [going into the match] because we have always had a good run against them. When we played a double round, there was always an exchange of results. We are now heading into a final where we have to be up for the game," Currie told rugby365.com.
His counterpart, Chester Williams believes that his side can live up to their favourites tag and claim the trophy on their third attempt.
"We are not over-confident since we lost to them [in Round Two]. We believe we can beat them after learning to keep our structure and composure while not trying to play as individuals [during that game].
"I don't think we have more pressure, it will help us with confidence [being favourites]," Williams told rugby365.com.
While both coaches have been impressed by the way their sides have performed, both were in agreement that, in a Final, you have to play the type of game that will ensure victory.
"It's a Final and you can win by a single point to lift the trophy. No-one will want to know about the score at the end of the match but rather just see that you have won the Final. With that said, we will take points on offer as that will put pressure on the opposition," Williams added.
Prediction: Fort Hare will have the psychological edge over their hosts while they also boast the bigger pack, so the forward battle will be intriguing. Working against the Alice students is the fact that they have less experience, with just four of them having had a taste of playing at the UWC Stadium. UWC have been in the Final on two previous occasions but have come up short. There is also plenty of conversions going around that they are the clear favourites. The key to their success will once again be their backline, under the leadership of flyhalf Aidynn Cupido. With home ground advantage in their favour as well as more experience, UWC should claim the Shield title by about eight points.
UWC: 15 Daniel Bock, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Michaine Fick, 12 Johannes Carstens, 11 Andre Manuel, 10 Aidynn Cupido, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Adrian Paarwater, 7 Shaine Orderson, 6 Dean van Tonder, 5 Curtley Thomas, 4 Brandon Valentyn, 3 Justin Theys, 2 Ralph Jansen, 1 Mzo Buthelezi.
Replacements: 16 Ismaeel Schroeder, 17 Nathan Cloete, 18 Matthew le Roux, 19 Alwyn Carstens, 20 Clayton Daniels, 21 Rodrick Moses, 22 Keagan Fortune, 23 Bradley Jumaats.
UFH: 15 Siphoxolo Zaula, 14 Zayne Farmers, 13 Xolela Daniels, 12 Somila Jho, 11 Wilfred Bowers, 10 Jeandre Christian, 9 Qhama Masiza, 8 Sibusiso Sityebi, 7 Thulani Njenje, 6 Zanoxolo Qwele, 5 Philisani Ncoko, 4 Athenkosi Makeleni, 3 Bulelani Mdodana, 2 Mkhonto Caku-caku, 1 Luxhanti Tame.
Replacements: 16 Litha Magocoba, 17 Asiphe Fanele, 18 Siphosethu Tsotsa, 19 Lukho Jongizulu, 20 Lindokuhle Kenene, 21 Luyolo Batshise, 22 Sibongile Novuka, 23 Sivuyile Mdishwa.
Referee: Paul Mente
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Hennie Daniller
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
By Tauriq Ebrahim