Impi make number of changes for Ixias clash

2013-03-11 00:00

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal Impi have made a number of changes to their backline for tonight’s 7 pm Varsity Shield encounter with Central University of Technology Ixias in Bloemfontein, and central to that is the loss of scrumhalf Zander Engelbrecht.

Engelbrecht is out for the rest of the season after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the last 20 minutes of the 10-9 win over the Tshwane University of Technology Vikings at the Peter Booysen Sport Park rugby stadium on the Pietermaritzburg campus last Monday.

The versatile Jeandre Small takes up the scrumhalf spot in the starting line-up and his combination and decision-making in tandem with pivot Carl Meyer could be key to toppling the Ixias, who like the flower they are named after, have shown unbeatable brilliance this year.

Five wins from five starts, including a 26-12 victory over last year’s wooden spoonists the Impi in PMB, sees the Ixias shining bright on 22 points. The Impi lie second on 16 points from six outings and have University of Western Cape (12 points from six matches) and University of Fort Hare (11 points from five matches) breathing down their necks in the race for a top-two finish and a coveted berth in the Varsity Shield final on April 1.

There are a number of other positional changes in the Impi backline, with a debut match for Josh Hart, the player from Pretoria and Northerns who comes in on the left wing.

Impi head coach Shawn van Rensburg told The Witness from Bloemfontein yesterday that the 26-12 defeat to the Ixias in PMB during the first round was not a true reflection. “We were 12-10 up until eight minutes from the end before a penalty try and another soft try on the final whistle pulled them away.”

With two wins in a row, the Impi are on a roll and have the added incentive of knowing that points in Bloemfontein will set them up nicely for their all-important final league match when they host UWC on March 18.

However, such has been the consistency of the Ixias this season, the stark reality is that the Impi will have to be at their best and more if they are to turn the tables.

As Van Rensburg pointed out: “Our defence had generally been good, but we must learn to finish our opportunities better.”

UKZN Impi: 15 Brandon Bailing, 14 Hendrik Groenewald, 13 Hendrik Lategan, 12 Gareth Meikle, 11 Josh Hart, 10 Carl Meyer, 9 Jeandre Small, 8 Andre Greyvenstein (captain), 7 Chris Ndlovu, 6 Theo Kruger, 5 Wayne le Roux, 4 Gerrit Fourie, 3 Luciando Santos, 2 Senzo Ngubane, 1 Leon Mulder. Replacements: 16 Richard Mhlongo, 17 Sizwe Khubeka, 18 Dumani Dludla, 19 Zwela Zondi, 20 Graham Koch, 21 Siyanda Madlala, 22 Siphathisene Dube 23 Sanele Mweli.

Kick-off: 7 pm.

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