It is ironic that a team that has won only one match in the Varsity Cup series holds the key to who the fourth team will be when the semi-finals are played next week.
The Maties and Tuks were assured of home semi-finals before last weekend’s matches and the Pukke have cemented third place.
That leaves Shimlas (17 log points), Wits (16), UCT (15) and Ixias (14) in the race for the final playoff place.
Favourites must be the Shimlas, but their chances could be scuppered by probably the most disappointing side yet fielded by the Johannesburg outfit UJ since the competition was first played in 2007.
UJ have won only one match this season. That was against their neighbours Wits whose rugby stadium is less than five kilometers from that of UJ.
Should UJ surprise the Shimlas and restrict them to a single bonus point, that will open the door to Wits, UCT and Ixias.
Should UJ lose to Shimlas but keep them from adding a bonus point, Wits could still make it to the semi-final.
UCT could, if they play to their full potential for the full 80 minutes, collect the full five points on offer against the ixias. But it will be in vain if Shimlas beat UJ. The mathematical chance of Ixias getting into fourth place is just that: a mathematical chance and to not a good option to bet on!
The same applies to Wits, who face Pukke in Potchefstroom. A five-pointer is needed, and then there are also the permutations of who wins where with UJ holding the key.
Whichever of the four sides qualifies will have to play defending champions Maties who top the log with 33 points. However, they have a match in hand against second-placed Tukkies (30) who have completed their fixtures and Maties can therefore not be overtaken.
The last match of this year’s league phase sees log-leaders Maties play log-laggers UWC. It’s an opportunity for Maties to fine-tune and a result you can bet on but with the expectation of a very small return.
Last-round fixtures –
16:45 Ikeys vs Ixias (SS 1)
18:30 UJ vs Shimlas
18:30 Maties vs UWC
19:00 Pukke vs Wits (SS 1).