UP-Tuks 1 to face NWU-Pukke in the semi-final

Posted on March 24, 2015

It could be a blessing in disguise that UP-Tuks take on NWU-Pukke, and not Maties, in the Varsity Cup semi-finals at the Tuks Stadium on Monday night.

NWU-Pukke are the only opponents that UP-Tuks lost to in the group phase. It was on 2 March in Potchefstroom when the home side secured their 43-37 win in the last minute.

By contrast, UP-Tuks destroyed Maties, bettering several records with the emphatic 53-8 win in Pretoria on 23 February.

After the finalisation of the semi-final fixtures, it was agreed in the Tuks camp that it would be so much easier to motivate the team for the clash with the NWU-Pukke.

As captain Wiaan Liebenberg summed it up: ‘We now have a second chance to prove that we are better than the NWU-Pukke. And what a wonderful challenge it sets for the semi-finals!’

UP-Tuks finished top of the log after taking full points from their match against the Madibaz in Port Elizabeth (40-8). UP-Tuks and Shimlas both finished on 30, but UP-Tuks’ more favourable points difference earned them first place (176-111).

The Shimlas, who will play 2014 champions UCT in the other semi, ended the group phase unbeaten with a win over the NWU-Pukke (29-26). Notwithstanding their defeat, NWU-Pukke’s two bonus points were still enough to overtake Maties on the log. Both finished on 21 points, but the NWU-Pukke's better points difference of 28-6 guaranteed play-off participation.

UP-Tuks coach Pote Human conceded that his team will have to play significantly better in the semi-finals despite the points difference of 32 in Port Elizabeth.

‘In the first half against NMMU we did not play well at all, and despite a better last 40 minutes we were not nearly clinical, accurate or physical enough in the semi-finals. Any missed opportunity can easily mean the difference between winning and losing,’ the coach said.

The Tuks Under-20 team booked their place in the final of the Young Guns series after beating their NMMU peers 34-8. Tuks will play their Shimla counterparts on 6 April in Bloemfontein, the same opponents who dethroned them as champions in Pretoria last year.

- Author Morris Gilbert

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