The FNB CUT Ixias are fast nearing the stage where every match becomes a crunch-time deal, after losing both their opening matches of the 2017 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International season.
Granted, the first two matches were tough away fixtures (in Cape Town and Johannesburg), but it is not getting any easier for the Blue Brigade, as their first home match is against their neighbouring arch rivals, FNB Shimlas next Monday at 16:45.
To add insult to injury, the injuries have plagued the Ixias since week one of this year’s competition. Eight players in total have been injured in their first two matches. After losing their star fullback, Darren Adonis against FNB Ikeys, stalwart centre Clinton Toua was stretchered off the field against FNB Wits, suffering from concussion.
Toua only recently returned from his leg fracture injury in 2016, which sidelined him for almost 12 months. Adonis should hopefully be back for this match against FNB Shimlas.
Johan (Fiela) Nel also seem to have recovered from his injury, and should regain his centre jersey from the injured Toua.
“It is very hard for us to get the team into a set game plan, with so many disruptions due to injuries,” Ixias manager and former coach, Skillie Bester told Varsity Cup. “We really hope to get a break from the injury epidemic currently plaguing us. The Varsity Cup requires every bit of skill and resources we have as South Africa’s smallest rugby university, and the way things are going now, we are simply stretched to beyond all reasonable limits,” Bester added.
Facing the 2015 Varsity Cup champions after both teams lost their games last Monday sets the FNB CUT Ixias up for a proper dog fight at the CUT Rugby Stadium. In their encounter last year at the FNB Stadium, FNB Shimlas scraped through with a 10-9 win against the determined and gutsy Ixias. Both teams will realise the importance of a win at this stage.
The FNB Shimlas are very strong up front, while CUT have battled in the lineouts and scrums so far this year. Out wide, both teams have the power to surprise and entertain the crowd with typical running rugby, scoring tries from anywhere on the park.
Depending on the playing conditions (wet weather seems likely in Bloem), the kicking game of the back pivots may prove to be the key to success. FNB CUT desperately needs a win to turn their season around. FNB Shimlas desperately want to rectify their unexpected defeat last week against the FNB Ikeys.
“We are in for a big one here,” Skillie Bester added with a wink.
The FNB CUT Ixias face the FNB Shimlas on Monday February 20th at 16:45: 15. Darren Adonis, 14. Ruan Wasserman, 13. Waldo Putter, 12. Johan Nel, 11. Olwethu Ndakisa, 10. Martin Jacobs, 9. Ruben Heymans, 8. Stefan Kruger, 7. Burger van Niekerk, 6. Dean Rossouw (Capt), 5. Kian Skippers, 4. André Venter, 3. Henco Smit, 2. Stefan Jacobs, 1. Jean Volkwyn
Replacements:16. Bester Olivier, 17. Kabous van Schalkwyk, 18. Kyle Ess, 19. Vincent Maruping, 20. Dean Jacobs, 21. Dian Dry, 22. Denver Klue and 23. Branden Verster
By Carel Korff