Tough trips for Unam, Wanderers

Gerhard Thirion in action for Unam against Wanderers. Photo: Helge Schütz

Windhoek Lager Rugby Premier League frontrunners FNB Unam and FNB Wanderers both face difficult away matches in Round 11 encounters tomorrow.

Unam, who lead the log on 44 points from 10 matches take on sixth-placed Trustco United (24 points) at Trustco United Park, while Wanderers, who are second on 42 points from nine matches, travel to the coast to take on third-placed FNB Kudus (32 points).

Unam regained the lead last weekend with an unconvincing 29-24 victory at home to Grootfontein, but they will have to up their game against an improving United team. 

The defending champions United had a poor start to the season, losing their first three matches in a row, which included a 31-17 defeat to Unam, and after their opening six matches they were third from bottom with only one win.

United, however, have improved considerably, winning their last three matches in a row and are now well in the hunt for a place in the semifinals, with fourth-placed Grootfontein (25 points) and fifth-placed Reho Falcon (24) just above them. 

A victory against Unam will give them a big boost in their quest to make the semifinals, but it will be a tough task against a team that has set the league alight with their freeflowing running rugby and their solid pack of forwards, where former United players, hooker Gerhard Thirion and loose-forward Handre Bezuidenhout are both making a big impact.

Wanderers, meanwhile, face a tough task against Kudus, as they will be without 10 players who have been called up to the national squad which is preparing for next weekend’s match against the Blue Bulls, according to Wanderers coach Dirk Human. 

“We’ve had quite a lot of disruptions and wehave up to 10 national players who are all going to be out, so it’s going to be quite difficult. Denzo Bruwer is back in the team, so he will be available, but Andre van der Bergh has joined a team in France and Sheron Rossouw’s wife is expecting a baby so he’s also not available. We still need to scratch our heads a bit before we select our team,” he said. 

Bruwer, who had a great season in Poland with Lechia Gdansk, is expected to slot in at flyhalf, but with several national players missing like Prince Gaoseb, Peter Diergaardt, Johan Retief, Obert Nortje, Jacques Theron and Danco Burger, Wanderers’ strength in depth will be severely tested. 

Human said they are expecting a strong challenge from Kudus. 

“It’s always tough playing against Kudus on their home ground in Walvis Bay. They always have strong home support and the wind can be a problem and play a role in the outcome of the match. They play with a lot of passion and always want to beat Wanderers, so we are expecting a tough match, but we are up to the task and will not lie down,” he said. 

Kudus, who lost their first round encounter to Wanderers 35-25 in Windhoek, have been a bit inconsistent, beating teams like FNB Reho Falcon (40-32), United (17-8) and Rehoboth (39-23), but losing to Wanderers and Unam (35-22).

Their recent form has also been a bit erratic, after they suffered a 24-23 defeat away to FNB Western Suburbs on 1 June, before edging Falcons 30-28 at home a week late, but they will fancy their chances against a weakened Wanderers side on their home turf, and a thrilling contest could be in store. 

Another humdinger could be in store at Suburbs Park where eighth-placed Western Suburbs will host Reho Falcons, while Grootfontein will be determined to get back to winning ways when they host bottom-of-the-log Simonis Storm Dolphins at Grootfontein.

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