Impi to face UJ in play-off encounter

2014-04-02 00:00

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal Impi were beaten 35-16 by the Central University of Technology Ixias in the final of the Varsity Shield in Bloemfontein on Monday to miss out on automatic promotion to the Varsity Cup.

But, fortunately for John Mitchell’s Impi, they will have one more bite at the cherry when they take on the University of Johannesburg in the promotion/relegation play-off in Potchefstroom next week. The game will be the curtain raiser to the Varsity Cup final between Pukke and the UCT Ikeys.

Speaking about the game, UKZN club administrator Nic Haswell said they didn’t deserve to win with the way they played against Ixias.

“We let ourselves down, made too many handling errors and guys who have played well for us in the season just didn’t come to the party,” Haswell told The Witness yesterday.

“Our guys were a bit overconfident after we beat CUT here last week. But we deserved to lose with the way we handled the ball. The anxiety and inexperience of playing in a final also played a part,” he said.

Haswell said there was no point in looking back and dwelling on the loss to the Ixias, and they were now looking forward to their game against UJ, who finished second from bottom in the Varsity Cup.

“They’re a very strong side. Even though they finished second from the bottom, they have a good side, and a huge forward pack and guys who have played in the Vodacom Cup. I think a lot of people were surprised at how poorly they did.

“There’s going to be a massive battle in the forwards. We have a strong pack ourselves. We will go there as underdogs. Being the underdog has always favoured teams from KZN,” he said, referencing Natal’s surprise win over Northern Transvaal in the final of the Currie Cup in 1990.

Haswell also felt the fact that UJ haven’t been in action since the Varsity Cup finished two weeks ago would help them on the day.

“They’ll not have played any rugby for three weeks when we play them, and we would have come off a tough final. They could be a little undercooked,” he said.

He was confident that they would be able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat on the day, and gain promotion to the country’s premier division of student rugby.

With their season going a week longer than planned, Haswell said the SA U20 had cleared scrumhalf Cameron Wright and lock Gideon Koegelenberg and they will be available for the game.

Stressing the importance of the two 19-year-olds, Haswell said, “They’re really talented and both of them will be playing Super Rugby within the next two years.”

The promotion/relegation play-off will kick off at 2 pm in Potchefstroom, and followed by the final.


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