With only two rounds of the cross-section Vodacom Cup competition to go, eight sides still have a chance to make it through to the semifinals -and the two frontrunners from each of the North and South sections can therefore not afford a slip-up in this weekend’s fixtures.
Superrugby reports that the North section’s log leaders Blue Bulls, oozing confidence after their nine-try 68-24 annihilation of the Free State last weekend, play unbeaten South frontrunners Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, and Free State, second behind WP after the Bulls defeat, take on defending champions Griquas in Kimberley.
The Lions are only seven points behind Griquas with the Leopards one point further adrift, and they’ll both be rooting for the South section’s Free State and WP to beat the North section sides and close the gap for them.
In the South section, the Boland Kavaliers and Wildebeest will have much the same sentiments as they hold thumbs for the Bulls and Griquas to beat the South’s leaders.
The Blue Bulls, after their performance last weekend, must be favourites to beat WP – even without stalwart John Mametsa and co-winger Trompie Nonthsinga, who both have hamstring injuries.
The Bulls, at home, have a rare and very effective blend of some old hands and some of the country’s most promising future stars that should see them make sure of a semifinal.
The pressure will be squarely on Western Province, who play Griquas in next week’s last round. They simply cannot afford to lose against the Blue Bulls, who have the luxury of a relatively easy match against the winless Border Bulldogs next weekend and are virtually assure of a semifinal berth.
Griquas cannot, for the same reason as Western province, afford to go down against Free State on Friday. They will be favourites against their neighbours, though.
Griquas are on a winning run, and last weekend accounted for a strong Boland Kavaliers side that will be happy that they on Friday have the weak Griffons to regain their confidence before they can hopefully pounce next weekend.
A difficult match awaits the Wildebeest against the Valke. Brakpan’s Bosman Stadium is never an easy venue, and the Valke, fresh off a rare win, could scupper any last thoughts of a Wildebeest semifinal spot.
This weekend’s fixtures are:
Griquas v Free State, 7pm in Kimberley; Pumas v Border 7.10pm in Witbank; Griffons v Boland Kavaliers, 9pm in Welkom.
Blue Bulls v WP, 2.30pm at Loftus; Valke v Wildebeest, 3pm in Brakpan; Golden Lions v Mighty Elephants, 4pm at Union Rugby Club; Leopards v SWD, 4pm in Rustenburg.
Matches in bold are televised on SS1Tweet