The Currie Cup Premier Division reaches the halfway stage this weekend, with all eight teams looking to improve their log position, while the First Division and Mzansi Challenge continues with matches in Kempton Park, Potchefstroom, East London and Windhoek.
As the seventh round of the Premier Division looms, nothing but points’ difference separates the Airlink Pumas and Toyota Cheetahs at the top of the standings. Meanwhile, only two log points separate the teams placed between third and seventh on the log.
The tournament’s two top-ranked sides will host matches on Friday. The Toyota Cheetahs as well as the Airlink Pumas will be hoping to buck last week’s trend – which saw four teams winning away from home.
The Toyota Cheetahs will aim to build on their recent bonus-point win against DHL Western Province, when they host the Cell C Sharks at 14h30 in Bloemfontein. Hawies Fourie’s charges have averaged 37 points and five tries a match this season.
The men from Durban will be looking to bounce back after their narrow defeat to the Vodacom Bulls. They currently sit in third place on the log, but may slip down the standings with another defeat.
The Airlink Pumas scored 64 points and 10 tries in their big win over the NovaVit Griffons in Welkom last week. They may be in for a tougher encounter this Friday, though, when they host a DHL WP side with a point to prove.
DHL WP lost control of the recent game against the Toyota Cheetahs and went on to record a disappointing defeat. A sharper all-round performance will be required when they travel to Mpumalanga to face a ruthless Airlink Pumas outfit, who scored 43 unanswered points in the second half against the NovaVit Griffons last week.
The visitors will be without Kade Wolhuter – the tournament’s leading point-scorer (74) – as the flyhalf has been ruled out for the rest of the season after sustaining a serious knee injury.
The Jukskei Derby staged at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday will be particularly important. The Vodacom Bulls will have the chance to claim their third-straight win of the tournament – after losing their first four matches. By contrast, the Fidelity ADT Lions will be desperate to end a two-game losing streak.
The Vodacom Bulls currently sit in seventh place on the log. They will surpass their Gauteng rivals – who are in sixth place – if they win this Saturday, and may even finish the round in the top-four if other results go their way.
Windhoek Draught Griquas claimed a dramatic win after the hooter against the Fidelity ADT Lions in Johannesburg last week. A win against the NovaVit Griffons in Kimberley on Sunday will boost their playoff prospects.
Meanwhile, the Northern Free Staters will be searching for just their second win of the campaign. Since beating the Vodacom Bulls in round four, they have conceded over 100 points (across subsequent matches against DHL WP and the Airlink Pumas).
Currie Cup First Division / Mzansi Challenge
Four Currie Cup First Division Mzanzi Challenge matches will be played on Saturday. The high-flying SWD Eagles will travel to Potchefstroom to face the Leopards (15h00), the Valke will host the Boland Kavaliers in Kempton Park (15h00), and Border will tackle Eastern Province in what should be a fiercely contested Eastern Cape derby in East London (15h30).
In the later fixture at 16h00 on Saturday, Windhoek Draught Welwitchias will play the San Clemente Rhinos in the Namibian capital.
Currie Cup Premier Division match information:
Toyota Cheetahs v Cell C Sharks
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Date: Friday, 21 April
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Airlink Pumas v DHL Western Province
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Date: Friday, 21 April
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Vodacom Bulls v Fidelity ADT Lions
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Saturday, 22 April
Referee: Paul Mente
Windhoek Draught Griquas v NovaVit Griffons
Venue: Windhoek Draught Park, Kimberley
Date: Sunday, 23 April
Referee: Morne Ferreira