Currie Cup preview: Make-or-break round for potential semi-finalists

Make-or-break weekend for potential Currie Cup semi-finalists

It’s make or break in the final round of the Carling Currie Cup on Saturday, with three teams effectively involved in knockout matches to determine who will join the Bulls and Sharks in the semi-finals.

The semi-finalists will only be confirmed after the final match of the weekend, between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban.

Victory for the Capetonians should be enough to secure them a spot in the playoffs, but if they fail to knock over the hosts, Western Province will miss out on finishing in the top four of the Currie Cup for only the second time since 2008 (previously in 2019).

When these two coastal giants met in round three in Cape Town, WP won by 32-31, with Tim Swiel scoring 22 points with the boot as the Sharks outscored the home side by four tries to two.

If the Cheetahs – already out of the running – cause a big upset in the penultimate game and beat the Bulls in Pretoria, the Sharks can still top the log if they can get a full house of points against WP.

But it will take a mighty effort by the Free Staters as the defending champions have lost only once at Loftus Versfeld in the past year, when they hosted WP with a depleted side in the opening round of the 2021 competition.

The Bulls have been on an upward trajectory since then, but they have not yet played against the Cheetahs after their scheduled third-round match was cancelled due to positive Covid-19 cases in the Free Staters’ camp.

The first game of the weekend will set the tone, though, when third-placed Griquas host the  Pumas, currently fourth on the log, in Kimberley.

Both these sides have enjoyed an excellent season and can still qualify for the semi-finals, regardless of the result in the Northern Cape. When they clashed in the third round in Nelspruit, the Lowvelders snuck through by 26-22, but having won their matches this past weekend, both will be confident for Saturday’s encounter.

The Lions have concluded their fixtures for the season and have a bye this weekend.

Match information:

Griquas vs Pumas

Date: Saturday, 28 August

Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley

Kick-off: 2:30pm

Referee: Cwengilie Jadezweni

Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, local appointment

TMO: Ben Crouse

TV: SuperSport

Bulls vs Cheetahs

Date: Saturday, 28 August

Venue: Loftus Versfeld

Kick-off: 4:45pm

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Assistant referees: Johre Botha, local appointment

TMO: Quinton Immelman

TV: SuperSport

 Sharks vs Western Province

Date: Saturday, 28 August

Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban

Kick-off: 7pm

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen

Assistant referees: Paul Mente, local appointment

TMO: Aimee Barrett-Theron

TV: SuperSport

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Dylan Jack