To say there’s a little confusion regarding the draw for this year’s Vodacom Cup knock-out rounds would be somewhat of an understatement. The Sharks XV recorded a handy 24-19 win over the Pampas XV on Friday evening, but had to wait for a Free State victory over Western Province to confirm their home quarter-final.
Boland’s big victory over EP introduced a spanner into the works, though and it is Loffie Eloff’s unfancied side that ended the round robin phase in pole position, with the Sharks XV second. Free State and Western Province will have to travel for the quarters, with the unlucky Argentinians just missing out on the play-offs.
Over in the North Section, the Bulls ended as the only unbeaten side and lead the Lions, Griquas and the Leopards at the top of the table.
The source of confusion, though, was a report last week that the quarter-finals would be played within sections, rather than across. That would mean the Sharks XV would come up against Free State on Saturday and this is certainly still the impression within the camp. A recent article on the SA Rugby site, however, seems to suggest a more traditional cross-ection knock-out format, meaning a visit to ABSA Stadium for the third-placed team in the North Section, Griquas.
Whatever the case, Sean Everett and his team will feel that they have accomplished the first stage of their mission by securing a top two finish on the log. Nothing has been achieved so far, though and whichever of Free State or Griquas ends up rolling into Durban this weekend, they should be significantly weakened as a result of contributing so many players to the Cheetahs ill-fated Super 14 tour.
The Sharks XV have played some very ordinary rugby, at times, against pretty average opposition, though and were again guilty of making their own lives more difficult on Friday by going to sleep after building an early lead. The Pampas XV duly hit back and it became a mad scramble from that point on to ensure victory. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?Tweet