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Dark night looms for Rhodes

Date Released: Fri, 31 August 2012 08:57 +0200

WITH four matches down, the Rhodes University Internal League rugby season has reached its halfway mark. This weekend's matches on the Great Field will be the last round of the competition's group stages and hungry fans will have to wait until next term for the knock-out stages.

These matches will take place in the first two weeks of fourth term after a short recess forced by the university holidays.

Six teams have battled it out during the past term and all their hard work could finally pay off as the top four semifinalists will be decided after tonight's action. In pole position, and the pundits' pick to walk away with the championship are the all-conquering Dream Team. The unbeaten side sits on top of the pile with 16 points.

Heathens follow closely with 14 points. They've played well this season, grinding out wins even when nearly faced with defeat.

These top two teams going into the last week of fixtures are almost guaranteed a spot in the semis.

The bottom half of the log looks more interesting. Last year's runners-up, the Wolves, are in third place with nine points. Founders slot into the top four with seven points.

The dark knight that threatens to rise in this equation is fifth-placed Hill who are sitting on five points.

Should Hill manage to pull off a bonus point win, which is worth five, they could jump into third place ahead of the Wolves.

 To avoid defeat and the possibility of facing the top-ranked side, Wolves need to play the game of their lives in a repeat of last year's final.

It won't be easy corning up against a team that is known for finishing strong. The Wolves will at least have history to draw on, just as the Dream Team this year looked like nothing less than the rightful heirs of the throne until they were beaten by a solid Heathens outfit last year.

 Heathens have managed to retain most of the players from that campaign and they not only pose a threat to Wolves finishing third but are a genuine contender for the final honours.

 The winner of the Heathens and Wolves encounter should be an interesting result for any team with title aspirations.

 The Troopers are last and with two points to show this season will probably play their last game. Having started off really well, showing tremendous guts, they have been unable to match up to the rest of the Internal League pack.

Against the Wolves last week they struggled to adequately govern the breakdown area.

Troopers have also been beaten for physicality. They have come off second best all season when it comes to the big collisions. Troopers remain, like last year, rooted to the foot of the table.

Unless they plan to adopt a Moneyball strategy (one that promises results from undervalued players), any future Troopers teams need to invest in bringing in a few hefty players to balance the scale.

The first game kicks off at 6pm today.

Written by Mvuzo Ponono

This article appeared on Grocott's Mail.