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Currie Cup: Double action in the knockout phases

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With the countdown to the Currie Cup Premier Division playoffs having started, the Sigma Lions and Toyota Cheetahs will realise the importance of winning on the road this weekend if they are to keep in touch with the top teams on the log.

The men from Johannesburg are off the Kimberley to face a confident Griquas side on Friday, and on Saturday the Free Staters are in action against DHL Western Province in Cape Town.

The final match of the weekend is a top-of-the-table clash between the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls in Durban, after both teams agreed to move the game to the coast after it was initially scheduled for Pretoria.

The Currie Cup First Division is now in the knock-out phase and for two of the teams in action this weekend, it will be their final match of the season. Both matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

The Leopards host the Boland Kavaliers in the first semi-final in Potchefstroom on Friday afternoon, and the second playoff is on Saturday morning in Welkom, where the Down Touch Griffons take on the Valke.

Meanwhile, Scarra Ntubeni has been cleared to play on Saturday, after the DHL Western Province hooker appeared at a judicial hearing earlier in the week following his sending off in the match against the Vodacom Bulls last Friday.

The judicial officer found that while there was foul play, it wasn’t intentional or reckless – the initial contact was below the shoulders and the lowering of the opponent’s body caused the left upper arm of Ntubeni making contact above the shoulders (neck/chin) – and that the red card has since been expunged.

Premier Division
Burger Odendaal will be running out in his 50th Currie Cup match on Friday afternoon, and the Sigma Lions will be keen to make it a memorable occasion for the experienced midfielder when they take on the high-flying Griquas in Kimberley.

The last time these two teams clashed was a few weeks ago in round six, when Griquas caused an upset to win by 41-31 in Joburg, as they started their push up the standings.

Playing in Kimberley is never easy, and the Sigma Lions will remember their last outing to the Northern Cape, which they won after the match was ended early due to inclement weather.

On Friday evening, the Vodacom Bulls will be in a unique situation when they are playing a “home game” against the Cell C Sharks in Durban.

The teams decided to switch the venue after the Durbanites missed out on a number of home games that were cancelled due to the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, while the Vodacom Bulls also contributed R100,000 to the Sharks’ “Hands of Hope” fundraising campaign, aimed at rebuilding KZN by uplifting communities and people’s livelihoods.

The last time these two sides – currently occupying the top two spots on the Premier Division log – met in the Currie Cup, was the nail-biting 2020 Final in Pretoria, where the Vodacom Bulls scored the match-winning try in the final minute of extra time.

The final match is on Saturday afternoon in Cape Town, where both DHL Western Province and the Toyota Cheetahs will be giving their all for a win to ensure they remain close to the top four.

These two sides are currently in fifth and seventh positions on the log, although the Free Staters have a game in hand, and they will be hoping for a repeat of their sixth-round clash, when the men in white delivered a superb performance to win by 38-21 in Bloemfontein.

The New Nation Pumas are not in action this weekend and if DHL WP can win on their home ground on Saturday, they will move past the Lowvelders into fourth spot on the log.

Match information:

Griquas v Sigma Lions
Date: Friday, 6 August
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 14h30
Referee: Griffin Colby
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Ben Crouse
TV: SuperSport

Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Friday, 6 August
Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19h00
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Cwengile Jadezweni
TV: SuperSport

DHL Western Province v Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Saturday, 7 August
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 14h30
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Television Match Official: Egon Seconds
TV: SuperSport

First Division
On Friday afternoon, the Leopards host the Boland Kavaliers in Potchefstroom, and on Saturday the Valke take on the Down Touch Griffons in Welkom, in the two Currie Cup First Division semi-finals.

The match at Olën Park, home of the table-topping Leopards, will kick off at 16h35, while Saturday’s semi-final at the Griffons Stadium is scheduled to start at 11h30.

In their pool encounter, the Leopards beat the Kavaliers by 29-23 in Wellington in round six, but they had to work hard to fight back from being down by 5-17 at the break, and 17-20 with 10 minutes to go, but two late tries sealed the win for the men from North West.

The Down Touch Griffons were too strong for the Valke in round four, winning by 32-3 in Welkom, scoring five tries without answer in a comprehensive victory to cement their position in the top two of the First Division.

Match information:

Leopards v Boland Kavaliers
Date: Friday, 6 August
Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 16h45
Referee: Paul Mente
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
TMO: Aimee Barrett-Theron
TV: SuperSport

Down Touch Griffons v Valke
Date: Saturday, 7 August
Venue: Griffons Stadium, Welkom
Kick-off: 11h30
Referee: Morné Ferreira
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
TMO: Quinton Immelman
TV: SuperSport

Source : Fatima Said and SA Rugby Communications


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