FNB NMMU head coach David Maidza has made several strategic changes to his side that will take on defending champions FNB Tuks in their crucial sixth-round FNB Varsity Cup encounter in Pretoria tonight.

The penultimate game of the round-robin tournament could be a defining moment for the team from Port Elizabeth, who have had mixed fortunes in the tournament thus far.

“The win against Wits was the right result for us to take into the Tuks game,” said Maidza, whose Madibaz outfit claimed a confidence-boosting 18-12 win in Johannesburg last week.

“We know that we will certainly be up against a formidable team but we are confident that we’ve managed to fix our problems on the field and are ready for the challenge.”

Aiming to put maximum points on the board will be kicker Gavin Hauptfleisch, who returns to the flyhalf position.

Vice-captain Jarryd Buys will be back in control and on familiar turf at fullback.

“Tighthead prop Dexter Fahey and right lock Cameron Lindsay also make a welcome return from injury to strengthen our forward pack,” said Maidza.

He said the new options had given him the flexibility to move Stefan Willemse to openside flank in place of Marcel Groenewald.

Number eight kingpin Timothy Agaba takes a well-deserved breather on the bench, with Groenewald starting in his place.

“Jody Reyneke gets a start ahead of Martin Ferreira who has done a sterling job at hooker,” said Maidza.

“I feel the fresh legs on Jody will help at this stage of the competition.”

Ferreira and Eastern Province Kings player Kayle van Zyl will take their place on the sidelines, while Wade Elliot replaces utility forward Andre Barnard at number 19.

Utility back Andile Jho swops jerseys with left centre Devon Lailvaux.

Maidza said his men were determined to book their berth in the semifinals and would not surrender without a fight.

A mere three points currently separate Madibaz, who lie fifth on the log, and second-placed Tuks.

“We want to continue with the improvements and gains we have made in the last week and will be looking to finish the round-robin stage with very strong and clinical performances.

“The destiny of the playoffs is in our hands and we are well aware of the task we have before us.”

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FNB Madibaz: 15 Jarryd Buys (vc), 14 Tythan Adams, 13 Michael Bernardt, 12 Andile Jho, 11 Yamkela Ngam, 10 Gavin Hauptfleisch, 9 Daniel Acker, 8 Marcel Groenewald, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Christopher Cloete, 5 Lindsay Cameron, 4 Louis Fourie, 3 Dexter Fahey, 2 Jody Reyneke, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain). Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Abongile Mnyaka, 18 Timothy Agaba, 19 Wade Elliot, 20 Kayle van Zyl, 21 Devon Lailvaux, 22 Sinakho Mafu, 23 Simon Kerrod
Wits vs NMMUsmall

Centre Michael Bernardt will be part of the Madibaz starting line-up for the critical away game against defending champions FNB Tuks on Monday evening.

Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA

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