Top of the log showdown at Wanderers

Wanderers centre Danco Burger in action against Grootfontein. Photo: Helge Schütz

A bumper weekend of club rugby lies in store with a top-of-the-log clash between FNB Wanderers and FNB Unam at the Wanderers ground the main attraction. There are also enticing contests between FNB Reho Falcons and FNB Kudus, and Trustco United and FNB Grootfontein as the teams battle for prominence at the start of the second round.

Unam have been the early frontrunners, winning their first seven matches in a row, which included a 31-17 win in their opening match against Wanderers on 16 March. 

That, however, was Wanderers’ only defeat so far, as they closed in on Unam at the top of the log, and when Unam suffered a surprise 21-17 defeat to Reho Falcons in Rehoboth last weekend, Wanderers became the new log leaders for the first time this season. 

It’s still very tight at the top, with both teams on 38 points and Wanderers just ahead of Unam on points aggregate, but they have opened up a sizable gap on the chasing pack, with Kudus 11 points behind in third place.

Unam coach Russel van Rooi yesterday said that he expects a massive encounter.

“Wanderers are always a tough nut to crack and that’s why our preparations have been quite intense this week. Some of our former players like Prins Gaoseb and Peter Diergaardt are now with Wanderers, but it’s not an issue for us. We are expecting a high-intensity match and we are approaching it with confidence and pride,” he said. 

Van Rooi did not want to say too much about last weekend’s defeat to Falcons. 

“As much as I’d like to blame the ref I can’t do it, but we had three tries which were disallowed with the ref saying that the ball was held up. But in the end Falcons wanted it more than Unam.”

“Each team is getting better – if you look at teams like Reho Falcons and Kudus – the second round will be very interesting. One can see that Falcons are highly motivated and playing for the Coetzees,” he added. 

Wanderers coach Dirk Human yesterday said they are preparing for a huge battle.

“We’ve had a good week so far and will have another session tonight. We are expecting a titanic battle and will be ready for the challenge,” he said. 

“In the first round we missed a lot of players who are now back like Obert Nortje, Prins Gaoseb, Pieter Diergaardt, Andre van der Berg, Danco Burger and Darius von Solms so we will now be stronger than in the first round against Unam,” he added. 

Despite beating Grootfontein 38-28 last weekend, Wanderers came off second best in the scrums, but Human said they have worked on their scrummaging. 

“Grootfontein have a very strong pack of forwards with big locks and they had the upper hand in the scrums, but we worked on it and will hopefully be better against Unam. We are expecting a big onslaught from them, especially up front,” he said. 

Kudus, meanwhile, travel to Rehoboth to take on an improving Falcons side who have moved up to fourth on the log on 24 points, and Kudus secretary Willy Muller said they are out to put an end to their resurgence. 

“We understand the challenge ahead. Reho Falcons have been in great form since the accident involving their chairman and players. These Falcons players demonstrate a strong sense of purpose, and we commend them for their efforts. Unfortunately, Kudus will not be part of this fairytale, we are determined to go there and put an end to their winning streak,” he said. 

Kudus suffered a narrow 24-23 defeat to Suburbs last weekend but Muller said they have worked on rectifying their mistakes.

“We struggled to find form last week and never really got going. This week, we have reflected on our performance and worked on correcting our mistakes. Last week’s match was physically demanding, but our team knows what needs to be done,” he said.

Another humdinger can be expected at the United ground when Trustco United, who are sixth on 20 points, host fifth-placed Grootfontein (23 points), while ninth-placed Simonis Storm Dolphins host seventh-placed FNB Rehoboth at Tamariskia. 

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