Community Cup preview (Round 4)

Raiders face an acid test on Saturday when they host Pretoria Police in a Community Cup tie that may decide which of the two qualify for the play-offs.

Pool B looks set to go down to the final match of the group stages next weekend with current log leaders Pretoria Police, on 14 points, enjoying a five-point lead over their Guateng neighbours Raiders and an eight-point cushion over College Rovers, whom the Bobbies beat 20-19 in the nations's capital last Saturday.

Both Raiders and Rovers have two matches remaining, while Police will finish their group campaign at the historic Bill Jardine Stadium on Saturday. Whatever the result, next Saturday’s final-round Raiders vs Rovers clash will decide which two sides advance to the televised Easter play-offs, which will be held from 2-6 April at the home of defending champions Rustenburg Impala.

Fourth-placed Bloemfontein Crusaders are not out of the running yet, either, but they will have to upset the apple cart with a bonus-point victory in Durban against College Rovers to stay in the hunt.

The race to finish in the top two is just as fierce in the other three pools – ahead of a fourth round that sees matches take place in the cities of Rustenburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg, as well as in the platteland towns of Kathu and Welkom.

In Pool A, log leaders Rustenburg Impala will qualify for the Easter play-offs should they beat bogey side Springs in Rustenburg, while Durbanville-Bellville will knock out PE Police should they win their match that takes place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

In Pool C, third-placed Wanderers will move to within qualification range should they beat Villagers Worcester at their Kent Park base, while Evergreens, following two home victories without bonus points, will need to win and score four tries in Kathu against Sishen to keep their campaign on track ahead of their toughest match – a fifth-round clash against unbeaten Hamiltons in Cape Town.

And in Pool D, Collegians will want to bounce back from their 34-20 defeat in Malmesbury against Wesbank when they host Ferros in the round’s early kick-off in Durban. Wesbank meanwhile could draw level with Despatch at the top of the group should they come away from the northern Free State with five points against Rovers Welkom, making it yet another pool that's just too close to call.

Round 4 fixtures (all 4:00pm kick-offs unless otherwise stated):

Pool A
Rustenburg Impala vs Springs (Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)
PE Police vs Durbanville-Bellville (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, PE, 14h30)

Pool B
Raiders vs Pretoria Police (Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg)
College Rovers vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (KP3, Kings Park, Durban)

Pool C
Wanderers vs Villagers Worcester (Kent Park, Wanderers, Johannesburg)
Sishen vs Evergreens (Sivos Stadium, Kathu)

Pool D
Durban Collegians vs Ferros (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 13h30)
Rovers Welkom vs Wesbank (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)

Byes: Old Selbornians (A), Noordelikes (B), Hamiltons (C), Despatch (D)

Photo: ImageSA/Saru

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