The Maties are odds-on favourites to win the Varsity Cup in the final against Tuks at Stellenbosch on Monday night.
This statement is based on their consistently good rugby this year, the fact that they have confidence on heir side after a second unbeaten season and that they are playing at home at the Danie Craven Stadium.
The two adversaries have undoubtedly been the top two teams in the first 11 years of the competition and many years before that when both were among South Africa’s top club sides.
It will be Maties ninth Varsity Cup final and they won four of the first eight in which they played – the first three from 2008-2010 and last year.
Tukkies are not far behind. They have only played in five finals but have three titles. What is more, all the titles came when they beat the Maties in the finals of 2012, 2013 and 2017.
In the round-robin phase, the Maties scraped through 26-24 in Pretoria. Yes, it was an away game and yes, Maties will this time have 20 000 supporters cheering them in the final. But Tuks do believe they can be beaten, although the Maties accumulated 38 log points from a maximum 40 in their eight league matches.
The result will hinge on whether the Maties forwards can withstand the onslaught rom the strong Tukkies pack, probably the best unit in the competition.
That will be an important factor in the game – Maties need good ball to get their dangerous backs running, and Tukkies will want to provide the best flyhalf in the competition, Tinus de Beer, with enough possession to dictate terms.
15 Reinhardt Fortuin, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 David Brits, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Chait, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Stephan Streicher, 7 Chris Massyn, 6 Johann van Niekerk, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon, 4 Zirk Jansen, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Wayrin Losper. Replacements: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Piet Strauss, 19 Mitchell Carstens, 20 Jesse Johnson, 21 Brendon Nell, 22 Anton du Toit, 23 Carlisle Nel.
15 Vaughen Isaacs, 14 Dewald Naude, 13 Lourens Pretorius, 12 Erich Cronje, 11 Irvin Ali, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Theo Maree, 8 Denzel Hill, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Stephan Smit, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Marius Verwey, 3 Jean-Pierre Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Etienne Janeke. Replacements: 16 Werner Fourie, 17 Jacobus Eloff, 18 Bart le Roux, 19 Brian Leitch, 20 Raegan Oranje, 21 Damian Bonaparte, 22 Xolisa Guma, 23 Ewart Potgieter.