Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Spectators can bank on Maties and Pukke dishing out great fare at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch when the Varsity Cup resumes on Monday (kickoff 7pm).

Maties have made an excellent start to their title defence and are aiming for their fifth consecutive win.

Pukke arrive in the Winelands as the only other unbeaten team in the nine-team competition and eyeing a fourth consecutive victory. And they know how to beat Maties in their backyard.

In the 2016 final the men from Potchefstroom, who had been unable to go all the way in three previous final appearances, did just that when, in front of a 17,000-strong crowd, they put their bodies on the line to win 7-6.

Maties, who had not lifted the trophy since completing a hat-trick of wins in 2010, gained revenge in the 2018 final in which the maroon machine hosted Pukke again, running riot on their way to a 40-7 victory to stay unbeaten.

They have kicked on this season and top the standings with 19 points accumulated from a possible 20.

Tuks, who were recently beaten by the frontrunner, are four points off the pace in second spot, while Pukke complete the podium on 14 points with a game in hand over the top two.

Maties, coached by Hawies Fourie, are the complete package with their forwards (missing skipper Johan Momsen for this game) leading the charge, while the back seven can ignite a spark at any time. Watch out for Edwill van der Merwe (flyhalf) and centres Cornel Smit and Chris Smit.

All signs point to another positive result for Fourie’s charges. But his stand-in captain, Ernst van Rhyn, feels Pukke can hurt them in certain areas and will be urging his troops to be on guard in the ground skirmishes and near their line.

Pukke captain Louis van der Westhuizen says his side respects well-coached Maties, and is wary of the threat posed by their backs.

Akhona Nela (inside centre) and Lungelo Gosa (left wing) will be aiming for tries again for Pukke after dotting down in the hard-fought win over Shimlas last week.

Winless cup rookies UWC welcome former three-time champs Tuks to their sports grounds and are unlikely to come away with the spoils based on recent results.

The pressure will be on their coach, Chester Williams, to turn things around after three consecutive losses. The only good news for the former Springbok is there is no relegation in play this season; newcomers have at the least two seasons to find their feet in the league.

The UJ-Wits clash should be an interesting affair. UJ are winless after four attempts but have home advantage over Wits, who have won one of four games but could have doubled that count had they not faded against Shimmies. Based on that showing, and the one against Maties in which their forwards dominated at times, they should win this clash.

In the final game of the day Shimmies host UCT. The Capetonians, who have lifted the trophy twice before, ran riot in their 42-23 win at the Green Mile against UJ last week for their second triumph of the campaign from three outings.

Josh Moon at flank had a blinder, as did eighthman Tatendaishe Mujawo, who scored a try.

Shimlas will want to get back to winning ways after having their two-game winning streak ended by Pukke.