Big guns looking to bounce back
February 11, 2013
Varsity Cup powerhouses FNB UP-Tuks and FNB UJ will both be looking to bounce back from opening round defeats in front of their home fans on Monday.

The Highveld outfits both went down away from home last week, and will be determined to come out firing as they seek to get their campaigns back on track.

Despite a second-half comeback defending champions UP-Tuks fell short against FNB NWU-Pukke in Potchefstroom last week, and their coach Nollis Marais is under no illusions about the importance of their clash with FNB UCT in a replay of the 2011 final which will be televised live on Supersport One.

"We owe it to ourselves and our supporters to be at the top at our game from the very start. We will have to be more precise and clinical in everything we do and leave nothing to chance,” he said.

Their opponents are coming off a hard-fought draw with the FNB NMMU Madibaz in Cape Town, and with world champion Junior Springboks skipper Wiaan Liebenberg leading a star-studded UP-Tuks side, the Ikey Tigers will certainly have their hands full in Pretoria.

UJ will host a confident NWU-Pukke side fresh off their victory over UP-Tuks as they attempt to put their defeat to FNB Maties last week behind them and play the kind of rugby that has made them one of the most consistent sides in the competition in recent years.

The Johannesburg side failed to score a single point after half-time in a windy Stellenbosch last week, so they are sure to throw everything at NWU-Pukke who will be keen to make it two big scalps in a row.

Both Maties and FNB UFS-Shimlas recorded bonus-point victories last week, so they will both be brimming with confidence ahead of their clash in Bloemfontein.

UFS-Shimlas completely dismantled newcomers FNB Wits last week to get their season off to a flying start, but they know that the Maties will present an altogether different challenge and as a result have called on the expertise of legendary Springbok prop Os du Randt.

The double World Cup-winner has been working with the UFS-Shimlas pack as they prepare to take on a formidable Maties side in their first home game of the season.

Wits will have their work cut out for them once more when they travel to Port Elizabeth to face the NMMU Madibaz who will be intent on building on their gutsy draw in Cape Town.

Madibaz coach Brent Janse van Rensburg believes that his team can improve on that performance by 50% and has called for a polished display against the newcomers who are still trying to find their feet in the competition.

"We are very confident, but grounded for Monday evening.

"We realise that we need to be prepared to fight every week and we feel that to get our performance up to where we want to be performing does not require major open heart surgery," said the Madibaz coach.

In the Varsity Shield FNB CUT will be out to protect their status as the only unbeaten side in the competition when they take on the FNB Fort Hare Blues who are coming off a morale boosting bonus-point victory over the FNB TUT Vikings.

Peter de Villiers has rung the changes for FNB UWC as they look to bounce back from their defeat to CUT in Bloemfontein when they host the FNB UKZN Impi in Bellville.