Dogfight for last playoff spots
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:51
The Community Cup race to George comes down to the wire in Saturday's final round of pool action.
The Community Cup race to George comes down to the wire in Saturday's final round of pool action, with three clubs set to scrap for the two remaining Easter play-off places.
The six teams who have already qualified remain in the dark as to who their quarter-final opponents will be.
Defending champions Despatch and Old Selbornians (Pool A), College Rovers and Roodepoort (Pool B), and Hamiltons and Rustenburg Impala (Pool D) have already booked their places in the knockout stages of the national club tournament which takes place once again at Outeniqua Park from April 17-21.
But it's in Pool C where any two of Roses United, Centurion or Brakpan can qualify, and the likelihood of points difference eventually settling the sides cannot be discounted.
Unbeaten Roses, who edged Brakpan by one point and drew to Centurion, will qualify top of the group if they beat bottom-placed but resurgent Noordelikes with a bonus point in Polokwane.
With Brakpan and Centurion both on 12 points, their match in Centurion effectively means that the knockout rounds have come a week early, with the loser almost certainly set to be eliminated from the race.
A bonus-point win for either Brakpan or Centurion, coupled with a win for Roses but without a bonus point, would see two sides finish top of the Pool.
Developments in the two Pool C matches in Centurion and Polokwane will also be watched closely in Rustenburg by home side Impala and visitors Hamiltons, who will fight it out for top spot in Pool D.
The winner of this eagerly anticipated clash in the Platinum belt will face the runner-up from Pool C in the quarter-finals in George, with the loser playing the Pool C winner.
A similar scenario will play out in Pools A and B, with Old Selbornians and Despatch clashing at Kempston Park in East London to determine who wins Pool A and therefore plays Roodepoort in the quarter-finals.
A defeat for Despatch would mean a repeat of the 2013 final against College Rovers, who are assured of finishing top of Pool B.
Elsewhere around the country, there is still plenty to play for for those teams out of play-off contention, with log positions determining ranking of teams for the 2015 Community Cup.
Spring Rose and Mossel Bay Barbarians fight it out for third place in Pool A in New Brighton, while Bloemfontein Crusaders stand a good chance of ending third in Pool B should they beat bottom-placed Welkom in the Northern Free State mining town.
In Pool C, come Saturday one of Roses United, Brakpan and Centurion will have to be satisfied with third place, while Sishen will crown off a vastly-improved campaign with third place in Pool D should they overcome Wesbank.
Final-round Community Cup fixtures (all kick-off times 16.00 unless otherwise indicated):
Round 5: Saturday, April 5
Spring Rose vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (Port Elizabeth, 15.30)
Old Selbornians v Despatch (East London)
Rovers vs Eagle Towing Rovers (Durban, 15.00)
Welkom vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Welkom)
Centurion vs Brakpan (Centurion, 16.30)
Noordelikes vs Roses (Polokwane, 16.30)
Rustenburg Impala vs Hamiltons (Rustenburg)
Sishen vs Wesbank (Kathu)