Strudwick left tut-tutting after Impi allow TUT tries

2015-03-11 00:00

UKZN Impi further consolidated their second place spot on the Varsity Shield after giving TUT a 66-41 drubbing in Pretoria on Monday night.

The return of hard-running inside centre Marius Louw was particularly telling, as he dotted down three of his side’s nine tries in a high-scoring match. But UKZN got off to a slow start and it was the hosts who scored first — spurring Ryan Strudwick’s team to life.

“We didn’t start very well and TUT took an early lead which was like a mental switch for us. It was tough for the guys to be fired up knowing we had beaten them by such a huge margin in our previous match against them,” Strudwick told The Witness.

“After they scored first, the guys switched on and played some great rugby for the next 50 minutes or so. We had the game in the bag and I decided to give all our guys a run.”

That decision backfired somewhat on the UKZN coach, who was not happy with the way his replacements played in the last 20 minutes of the match. A lax approach let TUT score more points than Strudwick would have liked.

“Our goal is still to keep [the opposing] sides to a minimum of three tries. We were 61-21 up at a stage, but the guys that came on were a bit complacent and the match got very loose. They just didn’t stick to the structure, which was concerning,” Strudwick said.

The coach conceded his side struggled to take on a side they had beaten so convincingly in round two, mainly blamed on poor defence.

“I am not too concerned though, it was a challenge to get fired up and we weren’t switched on for the full 80 minutes.”

Despite the negatives, Strudwick hailed Louw’s performance in his comeback match from injury.

“The guys didn’t play well as a team, but there were some impressive individual performances. I thought Marius Louw was outstanding and he scored some great tries — it was great to have him back.”

The Impi will need Louw and company to fire next week when they face log leaders Wits. The former Varsity Cup outfit beat UKZN 56-13 in their first outing of the year and Strudwick knows that his side will have to be far better to turn their fortunes around.

“We will have to be sound defensively. They are a big and physical side, they are well structured and know each other well from their time in the Cup.”

“Wits play a good brand of rugby, and watching their footage from Monday night’s game, we will have to be on form. They scored off three driving mauls in their game, so we will have to work hard to disrupt their lineouts and cut down their drives.”

But the Impi are expecting a few players to return from injury this week which will bolster their ranks.

Hooker Chris de Beer and wing Shane Makombe are set to be fit for selection, while first-choice flyhalf Innocent Radebe is still out for two more weeks with a shoulder cartilage injury.

As it stands, Impi will not be able to usurp Wits from their top of the log spot, but Strudwick believes winning next week’s clash is crucial from a mental perspective.

“I don’t think we can get to the top, but that doesn’t matter too much because the top two sides go through to the final. Beating Wits next week will help us mentally if we are to meet them in the final.”

Impi and Wits meet next Monday at the Wits Rugby Stadium, Johannesburg.

Kickoff is at 6.30 pm.

Varsity Shield results (Monday, March 9)

TUT 44-66 UKZN Impi

Wits 93-0 UFH

Varsity Shield Log (after round six)

PL W D L PD BP PTS

Wits 5 4 1 0 186 5 23

UKZN 6 5 0 1 80 2 22

UWC 5 2 1 2 -9 2 12

UFH 6 2 0 4 -120 4 12

TUT 6 0 0 6 -136 3 3

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