Mon 16 Aug 2021 | 02:52

Currie Cup road to the play-offs

Currie Cup road to the play-offs
Mon 16 Aug 2021 | 02:52
Currie Cup road to the play-offs
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SPOTLIGHT: South Africa’s premier domestic competition, despite all the challenges, is entering an exciting period of intrigue and suspense.

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With just three rounds remaining, the race for the four places in the play-offs will certainly pick up in pace.

As it is, two of the country’s main franchises – Western Province and the Lions – find themselves behind in the final dash for the line, while two of the ‘minnows’ (Pumas and Griquas) are sitting pretty in the top four.

The table-topping Bulls and second-placed Sharks are best placed for home ground advantage in the semifinals, but even at this late stage, all the five other teams are still in the hunt to make the top four.

Round 12, on Wednesday, will see some significant movements on the standings and may well be the last chance saloon for a couple of teams.

However, all the teams hope there won’t be any further disruptions and cancellations – a regular occurrence this season.

Currie Cup standings

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Western Province coach John Dobson pointed out that only two matches were “genuine draws” – WP and the Pumas playing to a 40-all stalemate at the weekend, while the Cheetah and Lions played to a 44-all draw last Wednesday.

Five other matches were declared ‘draws’ – due to COVID-19 cancellations, the violent looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and other commitments – with both teams getting points in all but last week’s Sharks versus Pumas match, cancelled because the COVID-hit Sharks could not field a team.

“It obviously threatens the integrity [of the competition],” Dobson said, adding: “That is why the standings are so congested. If both teams get four points [for a cancelled match] it congests the standings.”

However, he said the cancelled matches are not the reason for his team’s dire position.

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“That is a match we should have won,” Dobson said of his team’s draw with the Pumas at the weekend.

Dobson said they are targeting the next two matches – the Lions at Newlands and Griquas in Kimberley – for the points that could get them back into a play-off position.

“It is all to play for,” a disappointed Dobson said of the past weekend’s result.

(Article continues below …)

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Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse spoke of how ‘close’ his team has been all season in knocking over some of the tournament’s ‘big guns’.

“Because we have been written off all the time, this [draw against WP] feels like a win,” he said.

“We came here [Newlands] to win, even though nobody thought so.”

He spoke of their ‘success’ in the set pieces – scrums and mauls.

“I will take it [the draw], because for us as a union it means a lot,” he added.

He said they are not focusing on the play-offs just yet and that they are looking ahead to their crunch match against the Bulls in Nelspruit on Wednesday.

“The results in the coming rounds – with some teams winning and some losing – will play a massive role in who reach the play-offs,” Stonehouse said, adding that their remaining games against Griquas (who beat WP and the Sharks away) and Cheetahs (despite their obvious struggles) are no pushovers.

(All the remaining matches below the video …)

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Bulls
Pumas away
Cheetahs at home

Sharks
Lions away
Western Province at home

Pumas
Bulls at home
Cheetahs at home
Griquas away

Griquas
Cheetahs away
Western Province at home
Pumas at home

Western Province
Lions at home
Griquas away
Sharks away

Lions
Western Province away
Sharks at home

Cheetahs
Griquas at home
Pumas away
Bulls away

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