FNB UWC head coach Deon Davids admitted that his Varsity Shield charges are struggling to cope with the injuries that have decimated their talented squad in recent weeks.
The Men from Bellville have lost their last three consecutive games after taking early leads in each match, and Davids believes that a lack of continuity and depth has contributed to their poor form.
"The reality is that we are sitting with a lot of problems with injuries," he told varsitycup.co.za after Monday's gut-wrenching 17-18 defeat at the hands of FNB Fort Hare.
"We've got about ten injuries to first-choice players at present. We haven't got the depth in the squad that we need, so that's a concern."
UWC were dealt another cruel injury-blow when they lost their captain - hard-working lock JP Kellerman - in the first five minutes of the game against Fort Hare, which they lost by just one point in wet conditions in Alice on Monday night.
The UWC boss commented: "I don't think he [Kellerman] will be playing in the tournament again, so that is a major concern for us."
However, Davids refused to blame the wet weather for his team's loss to Fort Hare, who had previously failed to register a victory in the competition.
He said: "The conditions caught us a bit in the beginning, but it's a leveller for both teams so it's no excuse.
"It was uncomfortable and we just struggled to adapt," he added. "We made a lot of elementary mistakes in the backline; basic handling errors, especially when we got into our opponents 22."
This slump in form is surprising for those that watched UWC completely outplay FNB UKZN in their opening game on January 31.
Davids blamed a lack of continuity for his team's inability to kick on from that promising start.
"I think in the first game we showed that we were really well prepared, but then suddenly after that we had five or six injuries in the second game and that influenced our continuity and the way that the team performed," he said.
"We will fight back and give our best and hopefully things will turn around for us."
By Michael de Vries