THE FNB NMMU Madibaz impressive home form will be put to the test when they host a rampant University of Johannesburg in the Varsity Cup rugby competition at the NMMU Stadium tonight (7pm).
The Madibaz followed up a hard-earned win over Cup rookies Wits in their first home game last month with an equally tense four-point triumph over Free State last week.
The PE team showed plenty of fighting spirit to overhaul Shimlas in the late stages of their clash last Monday, with flyhalf Justin van Staden's accurate boot slotting three late penalties for a 14-10 result.
NMMU know that another win today will be a major boost to their hopes of making the top four playoffs and skipper Roy Godfrey will be calling for a concerted effort from his fellow forwards to match the UJ outfit up front.
If the home side can achieve that, Van Staden's boot and a hard-running backline, marshalled by Howard Mnisi in midfield, could put the pressure on the visitors.
However, UJ will be a tough nut to crack. After an opening loss to the unbeaten Stellenbosch side, the Johannesburg team have built up some impressive momentum with three consecutive bonus-point wins.
In Cape Town, even though their fortunes have differed vastly this season, there will be no lack of passion when Cape rivals UCT and Maties meet.
The Ikeys are yet to record their first victory this season, so they will be looking for some inspiration when they welcome the logleading Maties who have won all four of their matches.
Ikeys coach Kevin Foote admitted his team had been frustrated by a series of close losses, but added that they were looking forward to the challenge that Maties would present.
"It has been a bit frustrating so far this season as we have been close, but just haven't been able to finish it off. Maties have created a good winning culture, playing them is always a massive challenge and the guys know that it is a huge honour to play in this match," he said.
In Bloemfontein, Shimlas must win to end a three consecutive defeats when they face NWU-Pukke in Bloemfontein.
In Pretoria, Tukkies will be out to restore their dented pride against Wits, after the last-minute defeat to Maties last week.
The fixtures are:
Varsity Cup: UCT v Maties, UCT, 4.45pm; UFS-Shimlas v NWU-Pukke, Bloemfontein, 7pm; UP-Tuks v Wits, Pretoria, 7pm; NMMU v UJ, NMMU Stadium, 7pm
Varsity Shield: UWC v CUT, UWC Sport Stadium, 7pm; UKZN v TUT, Peter Booysen Sports Park, 7pm
Varsity Young Guns: Shimlas v NWU-Pukke, Bloemfontein, 4.45pm; UP-Tuks v Wits, Pretoria, 4.45pm; NMMU v UJ, NMMU Stadium, 4.45pm; UCT v Maties, UCT, 7pm