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Can chasing pack close gap on SA Cup frontrunners?

PREVIEW: With just four rounds of league action remaining in the SA Cup – including this weekend’s sixth round – the two frontrunners, Griquas and the Pumas, will no doubt target their next matches to put more distance between them and the chasing pack.

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The teams from the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga each have 25 points from winning their five games, with the men from Kimberley sitting in top spot thanks to a better points difference.

Griquas will have the early advantage for this round when they are in action on Friday afternoon already against Eastern Province in Uitenhage, while the second-placed Pumas host the Leopards in Nelspruit on Saturday.

A further two games are scheduled for Saturday: the SWD Eagles host the Cheetahs in George, and Boland take on Border Bulldogs in Wellington.

The last encounter of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon in Welkom between the Griffons and the Falcons, will wrap up the sixth-round action, with the SA Cup Final – between the top two sides on the log on Saturday, May 25 – moving into view for the participating teams.

On current form, Griquas are firm favourites to continue their unbeanen streak when they travel down to the Eastern Cape to face Eastern Province in Uitenhage. However, EP is a very difficult outfit at home and the side from Kimberley will definitely not have it all their own way.

Last week, EP showed great fighting spirit in going down to the Leopards in Potchefstroom and with nothing but pride at stake for them, the Eastern Cape side will be hoping to make a good impression against the team coached by Pieter Bergh.

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Griquas also showed great resilience in taming a spirited Boland side in Wellington last week, and the Northern Cape outfit would want to ensure they keep their unbeaten status.

The Cheetahs ended on the losing side in a thrilling Free State derby against the Griffons in Welkom last weekend, and the men from Bloemfontein will be targeting an immediate response against SWD in George on Saturday. However, Zane Kirchner’s Eagles are equally determined to offer the Free Staters a stern test at picturesque Outeniqua Park.

The Pumas will also want to retain their unblemished record against the Leopards, currently in sixth place, and another good result would see Jimmy Stonehouse’s men stay in the hunt for hosting the Final.

In Saturday’s third fixture, Boland are taking the field against last-placed Border Bulldogs in Wellington, with the Bolanders on a mission to get back on the winning trail after faltering against Griquas, and to close the five-point gap between them and the fourth-placed Cheetahs.

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Following their thrilling Free State derby win over the Cheetahs last week at home, the Griffons now have a fifth victory firmly in their sight when they entertain ninth-placed Falcons in Welkom on Sunday.

The Northern Free Staters are only five points off the pace and victory against their guests from the East Rand will ensure they keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Final.

All the matches will be streamed live on the Super Schools App.

See below for this weekend’s fixtures!

SA Cup standings after Round Five

Friday, April 26:

Eastern Province v Griquas

Venue: Central Field, Kariega, Uitenhage
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Christopher Allison

Saturday, April 27:

SWD Eagles v Cheetahs

Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Ruhan Meiring

Boland v Border Bulldogs

Venue: Boland Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00)
Referee: Paul Mente

Pumas vs Leopards

Venue: Nelspruit Rugby Club, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Sean Muller

Sunday, April 28:

Griffons v Falcons

Venue: Griffons Rugby Stadium, Welkom
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs

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