Varsity Cup reaches the business-end on Monday
March 22, 2013
The FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International reaches the business-end on Monday with two big semifinals in Stellenbosch and Pretoria.

The unbeaten FNB Maties will welcome the NMMU Madibaz to the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, and in Pretoria defending champions FNB UP-Tuks will take on FNB UJ in a trans-Jukskei derby.

If the corresponding fixtures between those teams earlier in the season are anything to go by, then we should be in for two thrilling knock-out clashes.

The Madibaz have been the Cinderella story of this year's Varsity Cup after scraping into the semifinals for the first time in their history on points difference, and they will be keen to take down the three-time champions who needed a late try to edge them 13-8 in Stellenbosch back in Round Three.

Madibaz coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has called on his team to give absolutely everything in their quest to upset Maties in front of their home crowd and progress to their first final.

"We need to be better than them on the night and be prepared both mentally and physically. All our focus now must be directed at the Maties. We are now in with a chance and we will certainly appreciate the great opportunity on Monday night.

"We came very close the last time we played Maties during the round robin in Stellenbosch and we very much look forward to the challenge," he said.

UP-Tuks needed a last-minute try to secure a nailbiting 34-29 victory over UJ in Round Six, and they will be determined to make it a double against the Johannesburg outfit that needed two late tries against FNB UFS-Shimlas last week to secure their semifinal berth.

Although they went down to NMMU in Port Elizabeth last week, the powerful UP-Tuks side are a different proposition on home turf, and UJ will have to be on top of their game if they want revenge for that heartbreaking loss two weeks ago.

The FNB Varsity Young Guns and Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships also enter the semifinal stage, making Monday a feast of knock-out student rugby.

Both Young Guns semifinals will be curtain-raisers to the Varsity Cup semifinals, with defending champions UP-Tuks taking on UCT at the Tuks Rugby Stadium in Pretoria and Steinhoff Maties squaring off with UFS-Shimlas at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.

In the Koshuisrugby semifinals defending champions Steinhoff Vishuis will face Maties side Steinhoff Medies in Bloemfontein and both teams will be looking to bounce back from narrow losses last week.

Steinhoff Villagers from NWU-Pukke are the only unbeaten team in the competition, and they will be keen to continue that streak when they welcome UJ outfit Steinhoff Bastion to Potchefstroom.

The Varsity Shield enters the final round, and while the unbeaten FNB CUT Ixias have already ensured that they will host the final in Bloemfontein next week, their opposition will be decided in the clash between FNB UWC and Fort Hare in Bellville.

Peter de Villiers' UWC side currently lead the Fort Hare Blues by two log points heading into their do-or-die encounter, with both teams eyeing their first-ever final.

UWC can qualify for the final with two bonus points, while for Fort Hare it will be about going all-out for a victory by more than seven points which would see them leapfrog both FNB UKZN and UWC.

The Ixias will be keen to make it eight wins out of eight games and take some valuable momentum into the final when they take on FNB TUT who are set to claim the wooden spoon in their first season of Varsity Shield no matter the result.

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