Derby countdown begins

Trustco United captain JC Nel and FNB Wanderers captain Jacques Theron along with their champagne girls, Simone Jansen van Rensburg of United (left) and Karene de Waal of Wanderers. Photo: Helge Schütz

The annual derby between Trustco United and FNB Wanderers takes centre stage this weekend when the traditional rivals meet in the 69th derby at Trustco United Park on Saturday. 

Since the derby started in 1954, United hold the lead with 34 wins compared to Wanderers’ 30, while four matches have been drawn. United also go into the match as the defending league champions and should be favourites on their home turf, but things have not gone their way so far this season. 

They lost their opening three matches against FNB Grootfontein, FNB Unam and FNB Kudus to drop down to seventh on the log, before finally beating FNB Western Suburbs 34-23 a fortnight ago. That moved them up to fifth place on seven points, but they are well behind the leading pack. FNB Unam, who are off this weekend, have surged ahead after winning their first five matches to lead the log on 26 points – six points ahead of FNB Kudus, while Wanderers are third on 16. 

Wanderers have only lost one match this season – against Unam on 16 March, but since then they have won three in a row, including big wins over Suburbs (44-7) and FNB Reho Falcon (73-21) and are in confident mood going into the clash. 

The opposing captains met at a photo shoot on Tuesday, where Wanderers captain Jacques Theron said they are well prepared and looking forward to an exciting match. 

“We are very excited, we are well prepared and this week we just rounded off the last rough edges, so we are looking forward to the game and all the players are very excited. 

“I won’t take anything away from United – playing the derby is always a tough one and they always bring their best, especially when they play Wanderers, so we are not expecting a walkover this weekend, we are expecting a tough hard fight, but we won’t have it any other way. I mean playing United, playing a derby, its always going to be a big one,” he said. 

Last year Wanderers produced a great comeback when they hauled in a 27-13 deficit to win 33-30, but Theron says he hopes that it won’t go down to the wire again. 

“I hope not, my prediction is that it won’t be, we are going to try and seal this one off earlier.”

Nel, meanwhile, said they are fired up for the encounter. 

“It’s always a humongous experience to play against Wanderers, the derby even more so, it’s always a big thing between us, we are going to give it our all and I’m sure they will too, so it’s going to be a spectacle.”

He said their form can only improve after their poor start to the league. 

“It shows you that you can’t fall back on anything that happened the previous season – the premier league is unpredicatable to say the least and I’ll admit we’ve had a baptism of fire thus far, but it can only get better from here. I think we had a good kickstart in our previous game against Suburbs so we’d like to continue that momentum. Obviously I know that Wanderers only had one defeat this season so they’re on quite a roll, but nevertheless we are looking forward to a huge game and we are going to give it our all.”

Nel says he is expecting a close match. 

“If there’s one thing in a derby, it’s to expect the unexpected, but I think it’s going to be close game, I think it’s going to be a good, hard game and good rugby to watch. I know they are really going to bring it on so I’d like to implore anyone that loves Namibian rugby to show up and enjoy it.”

The match kicks off at 16h00 at Trustco United Park and will be preceded by several other events between the two clubs to mark their derby. That includes their women’s rugby match at 12h30 and the netball showdown at the same time, while the two sides will also compete in cricket and knobel contests tomorrow. 

More matches are also in store in the Rugby Premier League on Saturday with Grootfontein hosting Kudus, and Rehoboth hosting Suburbs. 

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