Mr Kamvelihle Fatyela Blues Captain (1 of 4)_1

Keeping up the intensity until the fat lady sings will be key to University of Fort Hare’s fortunes in the third round of the FNB Varsity Shield this afternoon.

The Blues take on the Madibaz in Gqeberha believing a full-throttle approach from kick-off to final whistle can secure them a famous victory in the Eastern Cape derby.

Last week, the men from Alice led their encounter against Varsity College in Durban 16-7 at the break but they were unable to follow through in the second stanza as the home side rallied to register a 35-16 victory.

Captain Kamvelihle Fatyela attributed the defeat in part to travel fatigue while lamenting the fact that they failed to make the most of their opportunities to put points on the board.

The game had however taught them valuable lessons, as had been the case in their opening-round defeat to Tuks.

“We need to play the full 80 minutes and that’s what we’ve been working on in training,” he said.

It is fair to say that Fort Hare were dealt a tough hand at the start of their campaign having had to face Tuks, who until now had spent all their time in the top-tier Cup. Varsity College are no pushovers either.

“These matches have opened our eyes to what to expect in the competition,” Fatyela said.

Mr Kamvelihle Fatyela Blues Captain (1 of 4)_1

Fort Hare skipper Kamvelihle Fatyela is determined to lead his team to a famous victory against Madibaz in Gqeberha today. Photo: Varsity Shield

The inspirational leader of the Blues lifted the Varsity Shield trophy in 2022 and is keen to leave his mark in his fifth and final season with the team.

With many of Fort Hare’s personnel plying their trade in the Shield for the first time, the university team are very much in a building phase.

As such, the veteran is placing a lot of emphasis on his role as a motivator and the message to the rookies is that the results will come with hard work.

He has no doubt that Madibaz, who have won their opening two games, will be on a high and out to make it three victories on the bounce.

The Mandela Bay students have beefed up their pack this season and Fatyela is expecting a physical battle up front.

They were fully prepared, he said.

“We may not have the biggest forwards, but I guarantee you we have the biggest hearts. They will try to bully us but we are willing to take the hits.”

One of the biggest lessons they have learnt is the importance of playing in their opponents’ half, and this was front-of-mind this week.

This strategy will put them in a good position to score points while saving their legs, thus allowing them to keep up the pressure throughout.

There was hunger in the squad for their first win of the season and given that this is his last hurrah, the captain is determined to leave it all out on the pitch.

“I have enjoyed every single bit of my time at UFH. I was honoured to lift the Shield trophy (while also leading his team to the playoffs last year) and really want to end on a high.”

Kick-off is at 3pm.