Sitting in seventh position, with a game in hand and only a few points separating the teams in the race for a coveted top-four spot, a late push could see the FNB Ikey Tigers clinching a spot in the semi-finals of the 2017 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Their first opportunity to gain points on those above them comes in the form of a home game against FNB UJ on Monday afternoon. FNB UJ currently sit in fourth position on the log, and so beating them would significantly decrease the gap between the FNB Ikey Tigers and fourth spot.
While they would then also then need to win both of their remaining games against FNB Wits and FNB Tuks (who recently scored one-hundred points in a single game for the second season in a row), the Cape Town-based outfit would need to have a bit of fortune on their side with regards to the results concerning FNB UJ, FNB Wits and defending champions FNB Pukke in their remaining games.
Even if they miss out on a top four spot, this season has already seen the FNB Ikey Tigers improve in leaps and bounds. It seems as if they have suffered somewhat of a decline over the years, as they went from winning the title in 2014, to only making the semi-finals in 2015 and finishing in last place in 2016. However, there are indicators that their trajectory has changed, and that they are experiencing a resurgence of form despite only winning two of their five fixtures so far.
The team has never shied away from trusting youthful players, and at times has proven to be quite solid and resilient in defence. The FNB Ikey Tigers also have the player who had completed the most tackles in the competition before this past game week, epitomising the work rate and fighting spirit the team has.
While some may see them making the playoffs as merely a shot in the dark at this point in the season, we know that coming from behind late on is not something foreign to the FNB UCT Ikeys in this special competition.
By Wessley Thring