UKZN Impi bolstered by U19 Sharks trio

2015-02-02 00:00

UKZN Impi begin their Varsity Shield campaign today against the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in what promises to be a thrilling match of running rugby.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday before their flight to Cape Town, head coach Ryan Strudwick was cautiously optimistic ahead of tonight’s clash against former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’ charges.

“We were lucky to be able to pick a good team for our first clash, we’ve picked our strongest possible line-up for the game,” Strudwick said.

“We are going into the game a little bit blind, we haven’t heard too much about their team in the pre-season build up. But with no injuries ahead of the game, I’m feeling quite confident.”

Strudwick is excited to have some stability in his backline, with his flyhalf and two centres (Innocent Radebe, Marius Louw and Marcel Coetzee) having played for the Sharks U19 side at the end of last year.

“They were a great combination last year and were really strong. There will be some nerves, but I think they will be fine,” he said.

Ahead of the game, De Villiers told the Varsity Cup website his side would look to play the situations in front of them — hinting at a strong focus on attacking rugby.

Strudwick expects no less from the side that finished fourth in the Varsity Shield last year.

“They thrive on broken play and love to play in loose, open games. We’ll be looking to keep it tight and structured so they don’t have the chance to play the game they want. We’re expecting a tough day.”

Both the Varsity Cup and Shield tournaments rules favour running rugby, with five points awarded for a try and another three for the conversion. Conversely, penalties and drop goals only give two points — encouraging teams to score tries.

With that in mind, and UWC posing a threat outwide, Strudwick has set out a clear goal defensively for his side.

“We want to restrict them to a maximum two tries so our defensive effort needs to be top notch. Having worked hard on our structure and defence this week, I think we can do just that.”

The coach also wants his side to focus on building up phases — having struggled to do so in their pre-season friendly against Durban club College Rovers on Friday.

Lwazi Ncgungama will captain the Impi tonight, having done so last season.

The match kicks off at 4.45 pm this afternoon and will be broadcast on Supersport 1. TUT Vikings will face Fort Hare Blues in the other Varsity Shield match tonight. Kickoff is at 7 pm and will also be broadcast on Supersport 1.

UWC (15-1): Darian Hock, Gavian Cloete, Minenhle Mthethwa, Gordon-Wayne Plaatjes, James Verity-Amm, Quaid Langeveldt, Matthew Nortje, Darren Luiters, Jose Julies (c), Matthew Faught, Stuart Austin, Heynes Kotze, Tahriq Allen, Lifa Ghana, Curtis Beukes. Replacements: Chadwin Robertson, Wayron Losper, Mitch Lingeveldt, Brandon Beukman, Damian Stevens, Lubabalo Faleni, Shane Pietersen, Gustav Heydenrych.

UKZN Impi (15-1): Spa Dube, Hendrik Lategan, Marcel Coetzee, Marius Louw, Shayne Makombe, Inny Radebe, Graham Koch, Adam Wessels, Johan du Toit, Lwazi Ngcungama, Christie van der Merwe, David Harel, Sizwe Kubheka, Chris de Beer, Njabulo Mkize. Replacements: Mikyle Webster, Ntando Mpofana, Michael Hutton, Sanele Malwane, Langelihle Shange, Gavin Nyawata, Yandisa Mdolomba, Matthew Mandioma.

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