It’s rinse and repeat for Blues in Varsity Shield semis
FNB University of Fort Hare rugby coach Lumumba Currie wants his charges to rinse and repeat last week’s performance when they clinched their spot in the FNB Varsity Shield semi-finals. The Blues were trailing the TUT Vikings by two points going into the encounter but produced arguably their best game of the season to win 37-24 to finish fourth on the final log.
It earned them a place in the playoffs against the University of Western Cape, who topped the log after the regular season. To keep their title hopes alive, the Eastern Cape side will have to get the better of UWC in their backyard on Thursday. “Last week against the Vikings we managed the game very well. We stuck to the strategy we decided on and executed it without many mistakes,” said Currie.
“That is what we will have to do again because if you make unforced errors against a team of this stature you will get punished.”
The Blues mentor referred to their round-robin match when they gifted UWC 14 “easy points” that forced them to play catch-up in the last quarter. They eventually lost 33-13.
In the semis it was all about keeping it simple and taking opportunities as you only needed to outscore the opposition by one point, he added.
“We know it will be a hard game because they rely on their set-piece dominance for go-forward ball and they have good outside backs.”
But, said Currie, the Blues were ready to tackle the challenge head-on because there was no place to hide.
In assessing last week’s performance, he explained how the match had unfolded exactly how they had planned.
“The idea was to target them right from the start and to go hard for early points.
“It’s something you can do in this competition because of the strategy break after 20 minutes. If things don’t go as planned, then you can reassess.”
It panned out for the Blues after an early line break saw them gain 50 metres to put them on the front foot, which ultimately led to them putting points on the scoreboard within five minutes of the start.
It was the sort of performance they had been seeking all season, admitted Currie.
“We have tended to be a bit inconsistent; not always executing as well as we wanted to.”
The coach was relieved that the defending champions had reached the semis.
“When you have something like the Shield title you have to cherish it and protect it with everything you have. We have tried to box clever to keep ourselves in the running.”
Captain Kamvelihle Fatyela said it had been “joy and happiness and big smiles all over the place” after his side conquered the Vikings.
“It was a hell of a performance. I must say, we’ve definitely improved from the past few games but there’s still room for more.”
Despite missing the chance to earn promotion, the skipper confirmed that motivation was not in short supply among the team.
“It means a lot that we have a chance to defend the title. We’re super excited about the semi-final against UWC.
“Although they are unbeaten, I believe we can give them a hard time and, after all, anything can happen in the playoffs.”
He took the opportunity to thank their fans for getting behind them – “win or lose”.