FNB Madibaz captain Arnouw Nelis hoping that a solid platform in the set pieces will lead to clean possession for the backs when they take on University of Western Cape in their next FNB Varsity Cup rugby fixture.
The match will be played on Monday in Cape Town, representing a challenging start to the competition for Nelson Mandela University.
Apart from travelling twice in the first three weeks of their programme, they also came up against Pretoria powerhouse Tuks in Monday’s home game, losing 22-6 after holding their opponents to 10-6 until the 56th minute.
In the end, it was an evening of what-ifs for Madibaz and their supporters after several chances to score went begging.
Nel, an openside flank, said they realised that UWC would be a serious proposition given the brand of rugby they delivered.
“They play a good open and running game, but I feel that if we can target them at the breakdown and use the turnover ball effectively, we can put them under some pressure,” said the 21-year-old human movement science student.
“Also, it will be important for us to be strong in the setpieces to provide good ball for our backs, and that will allow us to stick to the structures and the gameplan we want to play.”
Nel, who made his Varsity Cup debut against NWU-Pukke last year, said he felt the team showed plenty of spirit against Tuks, perennial challengers for the title.
“The boys showed a lot of fight, working hard and not giving up until the final whistle.
“We left a couple of points on the park and failed to capitalise on the chances we had,” he added after Chadwyn November kicked two penalties early in the second half for their six points.
“Although we ended up losing the game, the team was competitive and that we gave a good account of ourselves.If we had taken our chances, I think the game could have gone either way.”
Nel said their ability to defend for multiple phases was one of the pleasing aspects of their game.
“We also put pressure on Tuks when moving the ball to the outside channels, and I think that is promising for us going forward.”
He acknowledged, though, that it was essential for the players to maintain a high level of concentration throughout the 80 minutes.
“We have learnt that any lapses in concentration will hurt you at this level of rugby. We need to try to win all the little battles within the game to be competitive.
“I think that the set pieces are going to be very important going forward, and if we can develop that area of our game, it will be beneficial for us as a team.”
Featured image: FNB Madibaz flyhalf Chadwyn November kicked two penalties in their 22-6 loss to UP-Tuks in the FNB Varsity Cup fixture at Madibaz Stadium on Monday. Photo: Dominic Barnardt