Preview: Scramble for playoff spots

Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:05
Large vodacom cup trophy

The Vodacom Cup competition is set to heat up significantly this weekend as there are only three pool rounds remaining for the teams to play their way into the quarterfinals.

The Vodacom Cup competition is set to heat up significantly this weekend as there are only three pool rounds remaining for the teams to play their way into the quarterfinals.
The pick of the weekend’s matches in the North Section will be Griquas against the Golden Lions in Kimberley on Saturday, where the favourable second place on the section’s log standings is expected to be up for grabs.
Should the winless Limpopo Blue Bulls create an upset against North Section log-leaders the Pumas in their match at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, however, the Golden Lions or Griquas could leap into the top spot on the log.
In the South Section, the clash between the SWD Eagles and EP Kings in George on Friday is expected to be thrilling.
While the SWD Eagles could climb into second or third place on the South Section log depending on the other results should they win, the EP Kings will be desperate to close the gap between themselves and the top four teams to keep alive their playoff hopes following only one victory in four matches so far this season. 
In the other matches on Friday, the Blue Bulls host the Falcons on the Loftus Versfeld B field in Pretoria and the Griffons go up against the Leopards XV in Welkom.
On Saturday the Free State XV host the Border Bulldogs in Bloemfontein, the Boland Cavaliers take on the unbeaten Sharks XV in Ceres, and Western Province fronts up against Kenya’s Simba XV at Newlands.
This week we look at two more emerging players from the North and the South Sections: Blue Bulls lock Marvin Orie and Boland Cavaliers No.8 Conway Pretorius.  
The Cape Town-raised player certainly knows about the highs of rugby, having been a member of the Junior Springboks team in 2012 that famously won the Junior World Championship.
He was also a member of the UP Tuks run-on team that thrashed Maties in the final of the 2013 Varsity Cup in Stellenbosch, after having led their Young Guns to the Under-19 title the previous year.
Tragedy, however, struck the former Tygerberg High School scholar in the 2013 final. Having already being earmarked to lead the Junior Springboks at the 2013 JWC tournament in France in June, Orie broke his leg so badly that some of his team mates on the field became physically ill witnessing that.
He worked hard to return to form and finally received the green light to return to competitive rugby last weekend, where he played his first 29 minutes of rugby in almost a year against the Leopards XV in Leeudoringstad. 
His impact could not have been more telling, as the Blue Bulls, trailing 13-6 at the break, found another gear and scored three tries en route to a 30-26 win.
For the 21 year old lock any time on the field will be valued. Having being out of rugby for so long and working tirelessly to get back to the required level of fitness, Orie will be ready to show off his skills in a competition earmarked for exactly that - to give young and upcoming players a change to confirm their credentials as the champions of tomorrow.
Our other rising star is that of Boland Cavaliers No.8 Conway Pretorius who has proved to be a great talent for the union. 
Pretorius, who is 1,87m tall and weighs in at 92kg, has a similar build to that of Springbok and Bulls looseforward Dewald Potgieter.
He made his junior provincial debut for the  Griffons Under-19 team in the Junior Provincial Championship in 2011, but returned to the Western Cape where he joined the  Boland Cavaliers Under-21 team in 2013. 
Such was the high quality of his performances he scored an impressive five tries in the competition, and given his consistent efforts it was no surprise that he graduated to the union’s Vodacom Cup team this season.
Pretorius made his senior provincial debut for the Boland Cavaliers against the SWD Eagles in Swellendam last month and earned his second start against Kenya’s Simba XV last week in which he scored a brace of three tries to assist his team to their first victory in the competition and an invaluable bonus-point win. 
He will make his third back-to-back start against South Section log leaders the Sharks in Ceres on Saturday.
Given Pretorius’ impressive rise through the provincial rugby structures, he undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him.
Round 5 fixtures:
Friday, April 4
Blue Bulls vs Falcons
Kick-off: 15.00
Venue: Loftus Versfeld B field, Pretoria
Referee: Stuart Berry
Griffons vs Leopards XV
Kick-off: 18.30
Venue: North West Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
SWD Eagles vs EP Kings
Kick-off: 19.00
Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Referee: Ben Crouse
Saturday, April 5
Free State XV vs Border Bulldogs
Kick-off: 12.40
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Rodney Boneparte
Griquas vs Golden Lions
Kick-off: 14.00
Venue:  Kimberley
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Pumas
Kick-off: 12.00
Venue: New Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Referee: Oregopotse Rametsi 
Boland Cavaliers vs  Sharks
Kick-off: 16.00
Venue: Ceres
Referee: Jaco Kotze
Western Province vs Simba XV
Kick-off: 16.30
Venue:  Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Tahla Ntshakaza