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Rugby | Currie Cup

Currie Cup teams on play-off footing

With the Cell C Sharks enjoying what they should consider a deserved rest, most of the teams in action in the penultimate round of the Currie Cup will be on a play-off footing as they go into matches that will decide their fate.

For Western Province their trip to Johannesburg on Sunday to play the Golden Lions has an appetising prize at stake. If they win, they are assured of a home semifinal regardless of what happens in their last league game against the Sharks, who have already qualified as the top finisher on the final log.

At this point the Cheetahs and the Lions can still catch them if those two teams win their remaining games and Province lose theirs and don’t pick up bonus points. But a win over the Lions will sew it up for them as they will then be too far ahead of the Cheetahs regardless of whether the Bloemfontein team prevail in their Friday night shoot-out with the Blue Bulls.

The Cheetahs, Lions, Pumas and Blue Bulls all have different reasons for needing to win. The Lions are in danger of dropping out of the top four and missing out on the semifinals of a competition they won just two years ago if they lose to WP. The Cheetahs can theoretically still finish second if they beat the Bulls and the Lions in their remaining matches and WP falter, while the Pumas and the Bulls can both still make the top four.

For the Bulls it is unlikely but the two bonus points they garnered from their narrow defeat to WP in Pretoria last Sunday have kept them in with a mathematical chance. They need to get a full house of five log points from both their remaining fixtures, with their final game being a Loftus clash with the Pumas.

Friday night’s game will determine the fate of the Bulls, while the Pumas will expect to win at home against Griquas and thus maintain their challenge into the final week of league competition. Going to Pretoria for their last game is a daunting prospect but then they did put 50 points past their neighbours in Nelspruit recently.

The Sunday clash, although it might feel a bit like after the Lord Mayor’s Show if the Newlands test match the day before produces fireworks, tops the Currie Cup billing. The Cape side don’t boast a good recent record in Johannesburg but they have a carrot dangling in front of them. If this Sunday’s game is anything like the one we saw last Sunday it will be well worth watching.

Weekend Currie Cup fixtures

Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Vodacom Blue Bulls (Bloemfontein, Friday 6.15pm)

Steval Pumas v Tafel Lager Griquas (Nelspruit, Saturday 2pm)

Xerox Golden Lions v DHL Western Province (Johannesburg, Sunday 2.30pm)


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