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It’s crunch time for Unam

FNB Unam’s recent revival in the Rugby Premier League will be tested to the limit when they host FNB Wanderers at the Unam Stadium tomorrow afternoon. 

After thrashing FNB Reho Falcons 78-5 in their opening match of the season, Unam’s form took a distinct dip as they went on a five-match losing streak and by 10 June they had dropped down to second last position on the log. 

Since then, however, they beat FNB Grootfontein and FNB Reho Falcons to move up to fifth place on the log, but Wanderers, who are currently second on the log, just a point behind FNB Kudus, will be a different proposition altogether. 

Unam coach Russel van Rooi however was upbeat about tomorrow’s match. 

“Our preparations have gone well and we are feeling positive about the match. We lost Des Sethie, Jason Benade and AJ Kearns to the national squad, but besides that we dont have any injuries and have a full strength squad at our disposal,” he said. 

“Wanderers won’t be easy, and we are expecting a titanic battle, but we have won our last two games, so hoperfully we have turned a corner and we will just take it game by game,” he said. 

Van Rooi said they have a young and inexperienced squad, but they are learning fast. 

“About 80 percent of our players played for the reserves last year, and have been thrown into the deep water, but they are now starting to swim and buying into the game plan,” he said. 

With Unam missing eight players in the national squad their depth will certainly be tested, but players like Aljarreau Zaahl, Shareave Titus, Paulus Hangula and Raschano van Rooi amongst the backs and Berry Gande, Conwill Draghoender and captain Graham April amongst the forwards have stepped up with some solid performances this year. 

Wanderers have been hit hard with injuries lately, while they are also missing six players to the national squad, but they have been one of the form teams to date and are in fact the only unbeaten team in the league, having won six and drawn two matches. 

In their first round encounter they comfortably beat Unam 35-20 on their home turf at Pioniers Park, but tomorrow’s match at the Unam Stadium could be a closer affair. 

Log leaders Kudus, meanwhile, could extend their lead when they visit bottom-of-the-log FNB Reho Falcons in Rehoboth tomorrow. 

Kudus have only lost one match all season – their opening encounter against Trustco United, but last weekend they took full revenge with a 38-21 win at Walvis Bay. 

They are missing three players in the national squad in Lloyd Jacobs, Chad Plato and PJ Walters, but they have built up a lot of depth and experience, and with players like Aurelio Plato, Justin Newman, Paulo Andrews, Rayton Paulse, Lezardo Vos and Joshua Jacobs leading their charge they have developed into strong title contenders. 

Despite being bottom of the log, Falcons have had some promising performances, and will be a tough nut to crack on their home turf where they have beaten FNB Grootfontein and drawn to United. 

United, meanwhile, host Grootfontein  at Trustco United Park and will be keen to get back to winning ways after their defeat to Kudus last weekend, which saw them dropping six points behind Kudus in the title race. They, however, comfortably beat Grootfontein 42-12 away in their first round encounter and will be strong favourites to win the return leg on their home turf.

Tomorrow’s final match between FNB Western Suburbs and FNB Rehoboth at Suburbs Park could be a humdinger with nothing much separating the teams. 

Suburbs are currently fourth on the log on 21 points with Rehoboth sixth, two points behind, while they are both in fine form at the moment. Suburbs beat Grootfontein 32-25 away last weekend, while Rehoboth held Wanderers to a 25-25 draw, and although Rehoboth beat Suburbs 32-17 in their first round encounter at Rehoboth, tomorrow’s match should be much closer.