The 2015 Varsity Cup is starting to heat after three rounds and this week’s action in the popular rugby tournament was of the most exciting to day.
The University of the Free State Shimlas have been making big waves over the past two weeks with resounding wins of the University of Johannesburg and The Central University of Technology Ixias.
The Shimlas raised eyebrows with their hard fought 24-0 win over UJ last week. However, on Monday night Franco Smith’s boys made a massive statement in the competition and fired warning shots to anyone who may wish to challenge them.
In the first-ever Bloemfontein derby in the Varsity Cup, the Shimlas convincingly thumped the CUT Ixias 57-0 as they crossed the whitewash on no less than nine occasions, and this in soaking conditions thanks to a storm during the first half.
The second successful clean sheet means that the side haven’t conceded a single point since the 46th minute of their 29-29 draw to the University of Pretoria Tuks in the opening rounds.
This equates to 194 minutes of rugby where the defence held their own and discipline was the order of the day. A hat-trick of tries on Monday night by loose forward Gerhard Oliver, to go with one against Tuks, sees this player as the team’s leading try scorer.
Once again the team will take a lot of confidence out of the win, and it’s something they will need come Monday night when they tackle bruised University of Stellenbosch Maties at home.
The three-time champions themselves received a proper rugby hiding this week when Tuks, who along with the Shimlas are the only other unbeaten team, gave the men in the maroon jerseys a 53-8 drubbing.
Two draws and a loss in their three games, see Maties just above the Shimlas on the log and they will be looking to prove a point in Bloemfontein.
While it’s always easier said than done, the Shimlas will look to stick to what they are doing as the competition crosses the halfway mark of the pool stage.
For Skillie Bester and his Ixias team, it’s once again back to the drawing board for their away match against the champions, the University of Cape Town Ikeys at the Green Mile.
Long-term injuries to star players such as Charlie Hitchcock (broken ankle) and scrumhalf Marius Grobler (broken hand) don’t make matters easier for the team in their debut season. However, the good news is that hooker Anrich Bitzi could be fit again for next week’s match or the fifth round against Tuks.
Third round results: CUT Ixias 0 vs. UFS-Shimlas 57; UCT Ikeys 40 vs. NMMU Madibaz 13; UJ 10 vs. NWU-Puk 8; UP-Tuks 53 vs. US-Maties 8.
Fourth round Fixtures: (Monday 2 March) UCT Ikeys vs. CUT Ixias, Cape Town – 16:45; UFS-Shimlas vs. US-Maties, Bloemfontein – 18:30; NWU-Puk vs. UP-Tuks, Potchefstroom – 18:30; NMMU-Madibaz vs. UJ, Port Elizabeth – 19:00.