THE FNB NMMU Madibaz will be fired up as never before when they strive to clinch a berth in the Varsity Cup rugby semifinals against Pretoria University at the NMMU Stadium today (7pm). Riding the crest of a wave at home with three wins in succession, the Madibaz know that victory over Tukkies, who are the defending champions, will be enough to clinch them a place in the top four.
Having drawn crowds in the region of 10000 in previous games, the NMMU officials are hoping the public gets behind the Madibaz tonight for what promises to be a memorable match.
Stellenbosch University are the only team to have secured a top four spot. The Maties, on 28 points, are out on their own, but the next four teams are separated by just four points, with Tukkies second on 21 points, followed by Potchefstroom University (19), University of Johannesburg (18) and NMMU (17).
Even Free State University, on 13 points, may fancy their chances of sneaking into top four, but they would have to register a big win over UJ in today's early game (5pm) to have any chance of making the grade.
Madibaz coach Brent Janse van Rensburg and skipper Roy Godfrey are under no illusions about the task ahead of them, but they are confident of a good result.
"A win is a must for us," Janse van Rensburg said. "It is an opportunity to make the semis and while that opportunity is there and the flame is burning, we are very motivated going into the game.
"NMMU have not been in this position in the past and we must make the most of this opportunity."
The Madibaz had a chance to seal their semis berth last week when they led 36-13 against Pukke in Potchefstroom but eventually fell to a 39-36 defeat. Janse van Rensburg said they were determined to put that loss behind them.
"We have proven we can compete against all the teams and Monday night is no exception. We believe we can beat Tukkies on the night; it is a home game for us so we just have to get on with it and put it away."
Godfrey, who has been a powerful force for NMMU this season, acknowledged that Tukkies had a strong side, but said they backed themselves to win.
"Tukkies have a strong side and play a well-balanced game," the NMMU prop said, "but we are definitely lucky to be at home where we have won three games and we don't believe Tukkies are unbeatable.
"We just need to go out there and play our game, treating this match as a final."
In the Varsity Shield, logleaders CUT will have the tough task of protecting their unbeaten status against Fort Hare who are sure to be boosted by their passionate fans in Alice.
Fort Hare closed the gap between themselves and UKZN with a late win over the TUT Vikings in Pretoria last week, and they will be monitoring the results of the match between the UKZN Impi and UWC with interest.