The Carling Currie Cup Bulletin #13

If the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division was a 4x100m relay race, the competition would now reach the second changeover as the home straight moves into sight with six games remaining before the playoffs.

Three big games are scheduled for the weekend, including a North/South derby at Newlands in Cape Town, as the teams in action jostle for position in the build-up to the semi-finals.

SA Rugby also announced a decision on points allocation for the cancelled match between the Sigma Lions and the Toyota Cheetahs – the score will be recorded as 0-0 and both teams will be awarded four log points, which means both sides are now on 14 points with six matches to go before the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, all three matches in the First Division this weekend will have an influence on the final standings, with the top two spots up for grabs, while some of the teams will be playing to stay alive in the competition.

The two sides from the Eastern Cape travel north, where Eastern Province will face the Valke in Brakpan (Friday 13h00), and the Border Bulldogs have a tough task against the Leopards in Potchefstroom (Saturday at 13h00).

The final match of the regular season kicks off at 15h00 in Welkom on Saturday, when the Down Touch Griffons take on the Boland Kavaliers.

Premier Division

The Carling Currie Cup Premier Division moves into the second half of the competition, with replays of the first-round matches, when the New Nation Pumas, DHL Western Province and Cell C Sharks started the season with convincing victories.

This weekend, the Sigma Lions, Vodacom Bulls and Tafel Lager Griquas will be looking to turn the tables, while the Toyota Cheetahs have a bye.

The New Nation Pumas had the best possible start to the competition when they smashed the Sigma Lions by 39-10 in Nelspruit, bagging five log points in the process and scoring five tries against the Pride from Jozi.

The Sigma Lions never really recovered from that defeat and are in last place on the log, but Ivan van Rooyen’s men will realise the importance of turning the ship around – and that it starts at Emirates Airline Park on Friday afternoon.

On Friday evening, Carling Currie Cup action returns to DHL Newlands in Cape Town, where DHL Western Province host the Vodacom Bulls after the decision to play all three Tests in the Castle Lager Lions Series at Cape Town Stadium.

The Capetonians were on fire against the men in blue in the opening round in Pretoria, where the hosts were depleted due to the Rainbow Cup final, but they still managed to score four tries for a bonus point.

Unfortunately for the hosts on that day, DHL Western Province scored six tries, with young hooker JJ Kotze bagging four by himself on Carling Currie Cup debut in the hooped jersey.

Evan Roos also scored a try for the Capetonians and he has been on fire since, and will definitely be one of the danger-men identified by the Vodacom Bulls before this match.

Tafel Lager Griquas, currently in third spot on the log, have the unenviable task of facing the table-topping Cell C Sharks at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Durbanites have missed out on playing a number of games, but showed their class in their last encounter when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

They will be hoping to repeat their 30-16 first-round victory over the men from the Northern Cape, when Boeta Chamberlain slotted a drop-goal, the only one of the entire first half of the Carling Currie Cup.

Match information:

Sigma Lions v New Nation Pumas

Date: Friday, 30 July
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 16h45
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Aimee Barrett-Theron
TV: SuperSport

DHL Western Province v Vodacom Bulls

Date: Friday, 30 July
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 19h00
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Egon Seconds
TV: SuperSport

Cell C Sharks v Tafel Lager Griquas

Date: Saturday, 31 July
Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 14h30
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Marius van der Westhuizen
TV: SuperSport

First Division

Apart from the top two teams on the Carling Currie Cup First Division table, the Leopards and Down Touch Griffons, both of whom are assured of spots in the semi-finals, it will be all or nothing for the rest of the sides in action this weekend, the final round of the pool phase of the competition.

But for the rest of the teams in action, there will be a number of permutations in play as they aim to make it to the playoffs.

The first match of the weekend, on Friday afternoon in Brakpan between the Valke and Eastern Province, is basically a straight shoot-out. If the hosts win, they go through, but if the Elephants grab the victory, they will be in a position to make it to the top-four.

However, if the Border Bulldogs can upset the Leopards in Potchefstroom on Saturday, and claim a full-house of log points, they can still finish higher than both the East Randers and the Elephants on the log.

The Boland Kavaliers, who are away to the Down Touch Griffons on Saturday, need just one point to secure their spot in the semi-finals, but a win in Welkom, coupled with a few other results going their way, could still see the men from the Western Cape sneak into the top-two.

The SWD Eagles have completed their matches and have a bye this weekend.

Match information:

Valke v Eastern Province

Date: Friday, 30 July
Venue: Bosman Stadium, Brakpan
Kick-off: 13h00
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

Leopards v Border Bulldogs

Date: Saturday, 31 July
Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 13h00
Referee: Ruhan Meiring

Down Touch Griffons v Boland Kavaliers

Date: Saturday, 31 July
Venue: Griffons Stadium, Welkom
Kick-off: 15h00
Referee: Morne Ferreira

Issued by SA Rugby Communications