Maties will be looking to host the final as they lead the standings. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Former champions Maties or Pukke will top the Varsity Cup (VC) standings after Monday's final round-robin matches.

Unbeaten Maties of Stellenbosch lead the nine-team standings on 31 points ahead of their clash with hosts Pukke at the Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds in Potchefstroom.

The match will be shown live on SuperSport1 at 7pm.

Both camps have six wins apiece, which secured home semi-finals. but whoever comes out on top will host the final.

Third-placed Wits have completed their allotment of eight matches and sit on 25 points, enough to secure the men from Johannesburg a place in the last four for the first time.

Fourth-placed UJ (23) need only a draw at home to Ikey Tigers to secure the remaining play-off spot.

Much-improved Ikeys (20) go into the clash as the underdogs, but that will only serve to motivate the men from the Mother City who have, like their Johannesburg rivals, won four of seven outings.

Their hopes of for an extended season comes down to big performances from halfbacks Lohan Lubbe and Pieter Schoonraad, the latter a dangerous scrumhalf who can turn it on at the drop of a hat.

Then a loose trio made up of skipper of Josh Moon, Nyasha Tarusenga and Kuyenzeka Xaba, who must make it count around the ruck fringes and broken play by exploiting any openings in the oppositions defence.

Sixth-placed Shimlas, the 2015 champions, welcome eighth-placed CUT in a tie the visitors have to win to avoid relegation.

Winless NMMU prop up the standings and look set for the exit door  UWC, winners of the Varsity Shield competition, have been promoted to next year’s top flight.

The Port Elizabeth-based NMMU Madibaz outfit are away to defending champions Tuks and the outcome appears to be a foregone conclusion in favour of the holders, who it must be said have had a horrid campaign.

Tuks have only managed one win and a draw for their seven starts which sees the Pretoria students third from bottom.

Maties have reason to feel aggrieved. Their previous match away to NMMU was abandoned 45 minutes in due to crowd violence with them 19-0 up.

It netted the maroon machine four points rather than the five on offer, because they had fallen one shy of the four tries required for the extra bonus point.

Two weeks on and Maties, who had their bye last week, will look to their fearsome pack to dominate the set-pieces as they have done all season long, especially at scrum time where the front five have dictated matters.

Captain Chippy Oelofse leads from the front and forms a powerful front row with Wilmar Arnoldi and Neethling Fouche, while promising locks Johan Momsen and Ernst van Rhyn have added their weight and also put in commanding performances at lineout time as well as doing the donkey work in tackling at the breakdown points.

If these five gain the upper hand over their opposite numbers we should see the men from the Winelands home.

That said, the home side, who lifted the trophy for the first time in 2016 - who beat Maties 7-6 away in the final  have had a great season too, their colours lowered just once in a narrow away loss to Ikeys.

They opened with a demolition job over CUT and had several other one-sided victories, but last time out they blew a lead against Wits and had to settle for a 30-30 draw on the road.

Weekend Argus

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