It was the FNB NWU-Pukke who broke FNB Maties’ hearts in last year’s FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International final when they scored in added time to win the 2016 competition. The loss left a sour taste in mouths of the Stellenbosch fans in the aftermath as the disappointment was high, but this coming Monday the FNB Maties will look for revenge when the defending champions travel to Danie Craven Stadium again for the third round clash of the Varsity Cup.
FNB Maties were made to work hard for their victory over FNB Wits last week, while the FNB Pukke comfortably saw off FNB Madibaz in Potchefstroom. Although a team filled with star names, the FNB Maties found it tough to get past the FNB Wits defence and one can expect a similar type of defence from FNB Pukke come Monday. FNB Maties will be hoping for a bit more dominance from their forwards to match their opponents, who have traditionally been strong up front.
The biggest task for FNB Maties will be to exploit their backline into spaces that will give opportunities to wingers Edwill van der Merwe and Duncan Saal, as well as fullback Craig Barry. The back three from FNB Maties have yet to fire on all cylinders after the first two rounds but are more than capable of creating damage against FNB Pukke. Outside centre, Kyle Steyn had a strong game against FNB Wits and will relish the opportunity against a quality side like FNB Pukke. Steyn crossed the white line last week after a brilliant seven-point try from FNB Maties that started just outside their own 22.
Coach Hawies Fourie has made just one change to his side that faced FNB Wits last week. Prop JE van der Merwe replaces Christiaan Hamman, who drops to the bench, while Devon Nash also comes in on the bench.
FNB Maties starting XV: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Kyle Steyn, 12 Braam Venter, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Janco Venter, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Ernst van Rhyn, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 JE van der Merwe, 2 Craig Corbett, 1 Niel Oelofse
Subs: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Christiaan Hamman, 19 Johan van Niekerk, 20 Devon Nash, 21 Logan Boonzaaier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Michal Haznar
By Andre Huisamen