The focus will be on third and fourth spots on the Carling Currie Cup logs this weekend, as three teams in the Premier Division and four in the First Division chase semi-final positions, with lots of permutations at play as the league phase of the two competitions conclude.
And in the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division, an intriguing battle is on the cards between the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls in Bloemfontein for first spot on the log, while Windhoek Draught Griquas, the Airlink Pumas and Cell C Sharks will fight it out for the two remaining semi-final places.
Going into the weekend’s round of crucial matches, holders the Vodacom Bulls lead the standings on 47 points. They are followed by the Toyota Cheetahs in second on 43 points, Windhoek Draught Griquas third (31 points), Airlink Pumas fourth (27 points), Cell C Sharks fifth (26), DHL WP in seventh place (15) and last-placed Sigma Lions (15).
The team from Johannesburg, however, have completed their 12 league fixtures and have a bye this weekend.
In the first of two Friday matches, DHL Western Province host the Cell C Sharks from 16h00 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, with the home side fighting for pride and their KwaZulu-Natal opponents seeking a big win to remain in contention for the top-four.
The second clash kicks off at 18h00 in Nelspruit, where the Airlink Pumas host Windhoek Draught Griquas. Any win for the Kimberley outfit will consolidate third place, while the Lowvelders must win and hope things go against the Cell C Sharks in Stellenbosch.
With the Vodacom Bulls and the Toyota Cheetahs secured as the two top-seeded semi-final hosts – their match in Bloemfontein kicks off at 17h45 on Saturday – DHL WP can have a direct say in who fills the two remaining playoff places, although they are out of the running themselves.
DHL WP home match against Cell C Sharks at Stellenbosch will set the weekend’s important fixtures off, with the Capetonians determined to finish the season on a high after suffering nine losses in their previous 11 games. A look at the previous five meetings between these two coastal rivals sees them even at 2-2, with one match cancelled.
The KZN visitors won the previous encounter, in February this year, by 35-20 in Durban. The Cape outfit finished on the losing side last week against Windhoek Draught Griquas (43-41) and will be hoping home ground advantage give them the edge in Stellenbosch.
Following that game, the Airlink Pumas will be hoping to build on their momentum of last week, when they pipped the Toyota Cheetahs by a point in Bloemfontein, in their crucial home fixture with their Northern Cape opponents.
These two have won two each during their five previous clashes, with the other game ending in a stalemate, however, the Peacock Blues won their last meeting comfortably by 41-20 in Kimberley.
Elsewhere in Bloemfontein, the Toyota Cheetahs are set to play host to the Vodacom Bulls in the very last of the season’s regular games, with the hosts needing a win while keeping the visitors from gaining any bonus points to secure first place as their big reward.
On current form, that would appear to be a huge ask as the Free Staters have lost their last two league games after going on an impressive nine-game unbeaten run, with the Airlink Pumas pipping them 29-28 the previous weekend.
While both teams have won two games each in their last five clashes between them, the men from Bloemfontein will be hoping to repeat their 38-25 success in Pretoria in February.
Carling Currie Cup Premier Division match information:
DHL Western Province vs Cell C Sharks
Date: Friday, 10 June 2022
Venue: Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Airlink Pumas vs Windhoek Draught Griquas
Date: Friday, 10 June 2022
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Toyota Cheetahs vs Vodacom Bulls
Date: Saturday, 11 June 2022
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Carling Currie Cup First Division
With the race for promotion to the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division settled in favour of the Down Touch Griffons, the attention now turns to the weekend’s deciding last round of league games in the Carling Currie Cup First Division.
The team from Welkom are secured of the first place and with that a home semi-final thanks to their 44 points gained from a clean sweep of nine victories.
The Northern Free Staters are followed by Eastern Province (31 points), who will host the other semi-final, Boland Kavaliers (26), Georgia’s Black Lion and SWD Eagles (24 points each), Valke (23), Leopards (18), Kenyan Simbas (13), Zimbabwe Goshawks (12) and Border Bulldogs (0).
Second-placed EP have a tough away task in Nairobi where they face the Simbas, with another passionate crowd expected in the Kenyan capital city.
As Boland have finished their league commitments and will watch from the sidelines how the race to the semi-finals unfolds, there won’t be any pressure on the men from the Eastern Cape in Central Africa.
The Kavaliers are not in action this weekend and will be hoping things don’t go well for the Black Lion and SWD Eagles, both of whom are breathing down their necks just two points adrift.
SWD tackle winless Border Bulldogs in East London where the team from George are expected to bag a bonus-point win, while the Black Lion have a tough assignment in Potchefstroom against last year’s winners, the Leopards.
The weekend’s fixtures will be completed with the encounter between the Zimbabwean Goshawks and Valke in Cape Town, where the men from the East Rand can still sneak into the top four if they win big and a few other results go their way.
Carling Currie Cup First Division fixtures:
Saturday, 11 June
15h00: Zimbabwe Goshawks vs Valke – Wynberg Boys’ High School, Cape Town
15h00: Border Bulldogs vs SWD Eagles – Police Park, East London
15h00: Black Lion vs Leopards – Olen Park, Potchefstroom
15h00: Kenya Simbas vs Eastern Province – Nairobi, Kenya