Battle for semi spots intensifies

United lock Warren Marais in action against Unam. Photo: Helge Schütz

While log leaders FNB Unam are strong favourites to increase their lead in the Windhoek Lager Rugby Premier League when they host bottom-of-the-log Simonis Storm Dolphins at Unam tomorrow, attention will also turn to the battle for the top four knock-out places.

Unam currently lead the log on 49 points, followed by FNB Wanderers on 43 and FNB Kudus on 38, while FNB Grootfontein complete the top four on 31 points. 

They have opened up quite a gap on the chasing pack, with FNB Reho Falcon fifth on 26 points, followed by Trustco United (24), FNB Western Suburbs (21), FNB Rehoboth (16) and Dolphin (5), but there’s still quite a way to go before the semifinals.

With the exception of league newcomers Dolphins, who are out of the running, the other four bottom teams can all still finish in the top four, but they will have to start winning to close the gap.

Defending champions Trustco United face a decisive match when they host Kudus, with victory crucial if they hope to retain their title. In their first leg encounter at Walvis Bay, United lost a bruising battle 17-8 when their influential scrumhalf Jahno du Plessis got facial injuries that put him out for a spell, but United have also missed his older brother and club captain Eloff du Plessis, who has missed most of the season due to work commitments. 

Their absence has been felt as they have failed to reach the heights of last year when they won the cup for the first time in four years, but they have been improving of late. Despite losing 35-20 to Unam in their last match a fortnight ago, their never-say-die spirit was exemplified by a fine last minute try by captain JC Nel. 

They will be without a few players in the national training squad like scrumhalf Jahno du Plessis, fullback Lorenzo Louis, wing Xavier Mouton and prop Ian Klitzke, but with stalwarts like Zander Bronkhorst, Freddy Mazila and Thehard Lintvelt in the pack and the tricky Hanreco van Zyl dictating play at the back, they will fancy their chances on their home turf. 

Kudus were a bit under the radar during the first round when Unam and Wanderers grabbed the headlines, but they made their intentions clear a fortnight ago with a stunning 51-27 home win against Wanderers, and a battle royal could be in store at the United field tomorrow.

Kudus’ secretary Wilfred Muller said they are ready and determined to win te match. 

“We are ready to take on an unpredictable United outfit that can’t be underestimated. We are determined to win as the season reaches its critical stage. It’s important to manage the players effectively during this busy schedule,” he said. 

“A few players are still injured and a few will miss the game due to work commitments. However, we are excited to have Aston Mukwiilongo back from a stint in Europe – he is sure to add some flair to the team. I’m certain we have overcome the inconsistency that affected us during the first round,” he added. 

Suburbs will also have to start winning if they hope to reach the semis, but they face a tough task away to Wanderers.

Wanderers won their first round encounter 44-7, and despite their drubbing against Kudus a fortnight ago, they should start as favourites on their home turf. 

Wanderers coach Dirk Human said he wasn’t too perturbed about their defeat to Kudus.

“We were missing 22 players against Kudus, either through injury or in the national training squad, so I’m not too worried about that result. We are still quite depleted for the Suburbs game but we will just have to dig deep and fight,” he said. 

“Suburbs have been a bit inconsistent but they are definitely a force to be reckoned with, but I think we should be good enough to win the match,” he added.

Rehoboth have had a poor season with only two wins from nine matches and they will also have to start winning if they hope to reach the semis. They, however, face a tough match at home against Grootfontein who have been quite impressive this season and now have the inside lane to make the semis. They have a powerful pack, but will be missing their influential captain Wicus Jacobs and prop Renard Hattingh who are both in the national training group, as well as national utility forward Johan Luttig who is unavailable, and if Rehoboth can match them up front they might have a chance with their unpredictable backline. 

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News