Currie Cup

Currie Cup play off race goes to final week

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Three teams will fight it out for the two remaining Absa Currie Cup semi-final places in next weekend’s final round of matches, following the latest drama-filled fixtures.

One of the Free State Cheetahs, the Xerox Lions and Western Province will miss out in the race to join the log-topping Sharks and Blue Bulls in the play-offs in a fortnight’s time.

The Free State Cheetahs need a bonus point win over the Boland Cavaliers in Bloemfontein to be sure of their place.

It will then be left to WP and the Lions to scrap it out at Newlands in Cape Town for the final place. The Lions will go through if they take a bonus point or lose by 18 points or fewer.

WP will join the last four if they score four tries in winning by 19 points or more and deny the Lions a bonus point. The Sharks and the Blue Bulls can enjoy the action after they both ensured that they will host Absa Currie Cup semi-finals.

The Sharks won the ‘match of the weekend’ against the Lions by 34-20, but the most talked about result saw Western Province fail to pick up a bonus point in their 23-7 win over neighbours, the Boland Kavaliers.

The rampant Bulls, meanwhile, beat Griquas 58-22 in Kimberley on Friday afternoon, while the Free State Cheetahs did their semi-final hopes no harm with a crushing 78-7 win over the Valke at Bosman Stadium on Friday evening.

Those results mean WP are now in fifth place on the Absa Currie Cup log, with the Lions and the Cheetahs in front of them in third and fourth place, respectively.

While WP will be rueing their inability to claim that all-important four-try bonus point – they scored just three tries against Boland – the Lions missed out on a crucial bonus point themselves against the Sharks.

The Lions, who led 8-3 at half-time, could have secured a semi-final place had they claimed just that one losing bonus point. Lions head coach Eugene Eloff was understandably a disappointed man at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday, saying at full-time: “The Sharks capitalised on our mistakes.

We made three crucial mistakes: 21 points. That was the difference between winning and losing.” Despite their bright start, the Lions had no reply to the Sharks’ superior second-half display, with the Durbanites racking up four tries -two to World Cup-winning winger JP Pietersen – as they recorded their 11th victory of the Absa Currie Cup season.

Powerhouse flanker Jean Deysel, another one of the Sharks’ try-scorers on the day, said SARugby website: “We’re glad about the result; we knew it wouldn’t be easy.

We were playing to secure top spot, the Lions were playing for a semi-final place – our mindset before the match was all about the job at hand.” Despite being down at half-time, Deysel – August’s Absa Currie Cup Player of the Month – revealed that there was no sign of panic in the Sharks dressing-room.

“We had been making some good runs in the first half, but our finishing let us down, so we simply spoke about doing the basics right in the second half,” he said.

“(But) it does help that our team spirit is so good, as we always believed and knew we could win the match.”

In Friday’s action, the Bulls – who are just three points behind the table-topping Sharks on the log – ran in eight tries in their win over Griquas, with hooker and Man of the Match Derick Kuun running in a stunning hat-trick of tries in the space of just 15 minutes.

Flyhalf Morne Steyn, now the new leading points-scorer in the Absa Currie Cup, kicked four conversions and two penalties as the Bulls overcame a slow start that saw them hold only a slender 10-7 lead after 22 minutes of action.

The Free State Cheetahs started slowly against the Valke on Friday night, taking 10 minutes to register their first try.

The next 70 minutes, however, was one-way traffic in Brakpan as the defending champions ran in 12 tries in total for their first win of the month, the Free Staters having suffered successive losses to WP, the Sharks and the Blue Bulls in September.

Free State flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter helped himself to a try and eight conversions for a personal points’ tally of 21, whilst fit-again Springbok flyer Jongi Nokwe showed his remarkable try-scoring abilities once again by notching up a hat-trick.

JW Jonker – who scored the evening’s first try – scored a double, along with scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn, who had another lively match behind the dominant Free State Cheetahs pack.

Western Province made it four out of four away wins on the weekend in their 23-7 win over Boland, but the Cape Town-based team were unable to score that magical fourth bonus point-clinching try.

Two tries by Sireli Naqelevuki and one from No.8 Luke Watson handed WP their seventh win of the season, but it seems that WP’s poor away form -which saw them lose to the Valke and the Wildeklawer Griquas on successive weekends in July – has come back to haunt them in the run-in to the semifinals.

SA Sevens speedster Danwel Demas scored his team’s only try, with Justin Peach converting, whilst the rest of WP’s points on a disappointing day came from Peter Grant (two penalties) and Morgan Newman (one conversion).

Sapa – CurrieCupRugby.com

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