The FNB NMMU-Madibaz claimed their first victory in this year’s FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, when they trounced FNB CUT-Ixias on home turf at the Madibaz Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Monday night.
The home team took a convincing 34-13 win over the 2014 Varsity Shield champions in a bruising encounter that saw the Madibaz earn five of the six yellow cards awarded during the match.
Despite a general lack of discipline from both sides, Madibaz head coach David Maidza said he was mostly satisfied with his team’s performance.
“We are very glad to have taken the five points on the board; it was ultimately what we were wanting out of the game,” said Maidza.
With three players in the sin bin at one point, the Madibaz could have given the game away but they defended well to hold on to their bonus-point win over the Varsity Cup minnows.
According to Maidza, the plethora of cards did not necessarily reflect the standard of play on the night.
“I’ve had a look at the game and, yes, a couple of yellow cards were deserved, but I do not believe the other three were warranted.
“But those are the calls that the refs have to make and we have to make sure that we are more disciplined.”
Maidza said he would confer with the match officials to identify areas of poor discipline that needed to be addressed.
NMMU were first to put points on the board and proceeded to dominate the first half, which saw CUT captain Frans Sisita earn the his side’s first and only yellow card of the game.
The home side capitalised on his absence to break through their opposition’s defences and take an 18-0 lead into half time.
The second half proved to be bumpier with both sides responsible for a number of handling errors.
When acting captain CJ Velleman and Arno Ebersohn were given their marching orders in the 53rd minute, closely followed by Ivan du Preez, it seemed as if the Madibaz could yet lose the game.
But despite being three men down, with CUT enjoying the majority of the possession to dot down two tries, the home team marshalled their defences well and maintained their lead in the end.
Maidza said he was glad to have the first win of the season under the belt, but felt that there was still room for improvement.
“We did not convert early pressure to points, which is us not being composed and not sticking to our game plan.”
The coach commended his men on their marked improvement since last week’s match when they were defeated 36-26 by the FNB NWU-Pukke.
“We definitely improved on our tackling compared to last week. We did improve in our attacks, although we were not urgent with our forwards coming around the rucks.
“We must be more ruthless in punishing the mistakes of the other team early on in the game, especially in this competition where one game can make all the difference to your position on the log.”
After last night’s match, the Madibaz have moved up from second last into fourth place, only four points behind FNB Tuks who are at the top of the leader board.
“We’ve just got to keep hammering away, putting in good, decent performances, and making sure that we come away with favourable results every week.
“The boys just keep on improving in the way that they are learning to play as a team,” said Maidza.
The Madibaz are set to take on the FNB Ikeys at the UCT Rugby Fields in Cape Town on February 23 at 6.30pm.
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