The FNB Maties played close to their best rugby on Monday evening when they comfortably overcame the FNB NWU-Pukke with a 31-9 victory, but what made the win even more significant was the fact that the Stellenbosch outfit had their third captain in as many games for their crucial encounter against the defending FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International champions.
When Beyers de Villiers was injured in FNB Maties’ opening game against FNB Tuks, which sadly brought an end to his rugby life, Craig Barry was the obvious replacement for the Maroon Machine’s second round match at Danie Craven Stadium. Barry himself picked up an injury in that game so when it came to Monday’s match against FNB Pukke, it meant that FNB Maties would have a huge leadership role to fill for such an important game. Up stepped centre Braam Venter. Venter took on the role as leader of the FNB Maties side and succeeded with flying colours.
Not only did the centre perform well on the field, but the calmness that surrounded the team throughout the 80 minutes was mainly because of his tactics to steer his side to victory. Venter made the right choices at the right time – whether kicking for touch or going for goal from penalty kicks – and was a significant part of the team’s outstanding performance.
Speaking in the post-match interview, Venter praised his side for their commitment and effort on the field against a strong and well-captained FNB Pukke side. “I think the team played the type of rugby that gets expected from a FNB Maties side in every year’s FNB Varsity Cup.
“We were clinical on defence and played with more intensity,” said Venter. What would be interesting is to see who will captain the side for this coming Monday’s match against FNB Madibaz in what will be FNB Maties’ third home game in a row. Craig Barry is expected to return to the side, despite Tiaan Swanepoel having a great game at fullback against FNB Pukke in the absence of Barry.
The FNB Maties and FNB Madibaz match kicks off at 18:30 on Monday evening.
FNB Maties starting XV: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Michal Hazner, 12 Braam Venter, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Brendon Nell, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Johan Momsen, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 JE van der Merwe, 2 Craig Corbett, 1 Niel Oelofse
Subs: 16 Freddie Kirsten, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Johann van Niekerk, 21 Logan Boonzaaier, 22 Chris Smit, 23, Tiaan Swanepoel
By Andre Huisamen