May 28, 2017

Shimlas through to semis

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Do or die…The Shimlas go into their crunch semi-final varsity Cup match against Tuks as underdogs

Do or die…The Shimlas go into their crunch semi-final varsity Cup match against Tuks as underdogs

No one gave the Bloemfontein side a chance to go this far, at the beginning of the season, having lost eight key players form their previous squad

The Shimlas have kept their aspirations to emulate their 2015 success, having set up a Varsity Cup semi-final date with the red-hot erstwhile champions Tuks in what is expected to be a nail- biting battle between two titanic foes.

At the beginning of the season, the two teams, in particular the Shimlas were not among the favourites to make the semis having lost eight key players from the previous squad. The Tuks on the other hand, due to their strong team and attacking game were granted a pass to the semis and they have certainly lived up to expectations after thrashing defending champions Pukke 43-28 this week Monday.

Tuks last lifted the trophy when completing the double in 2013. They have since not made the finals but the class of 2017 appear ready to stake a claim for the silverware, making it an interesting encounter as the Shimlas appear to be just as ready.

Speaking ahead of the game, Shimlas assistant coach Jaco Swanepoel said a big challenge was awaiting his young rugby team in Pretoria on April 3. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Swanepeol said because Tuks were the favourites, it could be to the advantage of the visitors.

“Perhaps it is good to be the underdogs. We actually have no pressure on us and I hope the players feel the same way,” he said the statement.

Reverting to their previous encounter, Swanepoel said their 19-65 loss against the Tuks in Bloemfontein is testament of the mammoth task that lies ahead of the team. Tuks concluded their round matches in style ousting the defending champions who were let down by inconsistency throughout the season, only having themselves to blame for dropping points is some of the matches they should have obviously won to begin with.

Having lost key players, the coach conceded that a top four spot was never on the cards, attributing their ability to reach the semi-finals to nothing but hard-work and dedication.
“It’s been a tough a journey for the boys and their hard work and dedication have finally paid off,” he added.

Tuks head coach Pote Human described the match as a potentially tough encounter that is boundt to see excellent attacking rugby being played by both teams.

“They are going to come at us and we are going to do the same,” Human said on the club’s website, further stating that a strong defence will be the decider in the game, a point many analyst have strongly agreed with.

The Maties have also booked their spot in the 2017 Varsity Cup semi-final, after they saw off FNB UJ at Danie Craven Stadium on Monday night. FNB Maties proved far too strong for the Johannesburg side as they won the encounter 65-19.

Maties will now play UJ again in the semi-final, the same day as the Shimals and Tuks match.

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