Even without quarterfinals of previous years, a number of clashes in this weekend’s seventh round of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge will indeed be like knock-out matches.
Defeat will spell the end of the road for one of the Free State Cheetahs or Boland Cavaliers in the South Section, and Griquas or the Golden Lions XV in the North Section.
In true knock-out style – akin to quarter-finals – only two of these four teams will progress to the semi-finals next weekend, with the Pumas and Western Province having secured further participation towards the climax of this highly entertaining tournament.
There will be a straight shoot-out between Griquas and the Golden Lions XV in Kimberley, where the team from Gauteng face an improbable task if they want to make it to the SuperSport Rugby Challenge semi-finals.
They only have one option – they need to beat the home side by 48 points or more and prevent them from getting a bonus point in order to play next weekend.
For Griquas there are some options to make sure they qualify, but they will be looking at the maximum points as they can still top the log.
For that to happen though, the Pumas, who are four points ahead at the top of the standings, need to lose in Welkom where the Griffons await
For the Blue Bulls and Leopards (in Pretoria), only bragging rights will be at stake.
The Welwitschias’ clash with Valke at Hage Geingob Stadium will provide the Namibians one last chance to claim a win and end the tournament on a positive note.
The home side scored an upset in their last match played in last year's tournament, when they shocked the Valke in Kempton Park, so they will fancy their chances.
North Section fixtures:
Friday 7 June
Blue Bulls vs Leopards
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Referee: Ruhan Meiring
Saturday 8 June:
Griquas vs Golden Lions XV
Venue: Griquas Park
Referee: Paul Mente
Griffons vs Pumas
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Ben Crouse
Welwitschias vs Valke
Venue: Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek
Referee: Quinton Immelman
There are two significant clashes in the South Section of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge this weekend. On Saturday, the Free State Cheetahs XV should lay down a marker against Border in Bloemfontein, with a victory moving them past Boland into second place on the log.
The Bolanders, currently three points ahead of the team from Bloemfontein, will know exactly what they need come Sunday, when they take on Western Province at Florida Park in Ravensmead, Cape Town at the sixth Rugby Festival of the tournament.
With the Capetonians already through to the semi-finals, Boland will need a win or at least a bonus point, depending on what happens in Bloemfontein the day before.
The other match in Ravensmead will see Sharks XV and SWD Eagles in action, and with the Durban side showing some vulnerability last weekend, SWD might just fancy their chances.
The match between Zimbabwe Academy and Elephants could be significant for two reasons. The first is a given, with Villager Rugby Club becoming yet another new venue in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, and the second would be if the Zimbabweans manage to pull off a first win in the competition.
South Section fixtures:
Saturday, 8 June
Free State Cheetahs XV vs Border
Venue: Clive Solomon Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Vusi Msibi
Zimbabwe Academy vs EP Elephants
Venue: Villager Rugby Club, Claremont
Referee: Divan Uys
Sunday 9 June – Rugby Festival at Florida Park, Cape Town:
Sharks vs SWD Eagles
Referee: Egon Seconds
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Western Province vs Boland
Referee: Griffin Colby
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Issued by SA Rugby Communications