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Tricky clashes for early pacesetters

SA CUP PREVIEW: With the SA Cup fast approaching the halfway mark of the league phase, pace-setting Griquas will face their most difficult outing when they host third-placed Griffons in Kimberley.

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It is one of three matches on Saturday.

The Pumas – who kick off the weekend schedule on Friday – when they host the Falcons at Mbombela Stadium – trail the early pacesetters on points difference.

Saturday’s two other matches see the fourth-placed Cheetahs go against Eastern Province in Bloemfontein, while Leopards take on the Border Bulldogs in Potchefstroom as they battle to move up from the bottom of the log.

Sunday’s fixture between the SWD Eagles and Boland Cavaliers (14h30) wraps up the fourth-round fixtures.

Griquas, the Pumas and Griffons all have a full house of 15 points from three bonus-point wins to date, and the leading trio are followed by Cheetahs and SWD Eagles (both on 10 points), the Boland Cavaliers (7), Eastern Province (6), and Falcons (2), while Border and Leopards must still register their first points.

In Nelspruit, the Pumas will enter their clash against their neighbours to the west, the Falcons, as favourites, with the East Randers still searching for their first win.

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The big question, however, is whether the red jerseys will be able to handle the physicality and backline threat of Jimmy Stonehouse’s well-drilled team.

The Friday clash will be followed by Saturday’s three matches, which are all scheduled to start at the same time.

Although the Griffons defeated Leopards 42-10 last weekend in Welkom, they now travel southwest to Kimberley where a stern examination awaits them against the impressive Griquas.

The team from the Diamond City were rampant in all three of their previous matches, and last week they scored more than 100 points as they swept Border aside.

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The tournament’s leading point scorer, George Whitehead – whose 72 points are almost double the 37 scored by the Pumas’ Clinton Swart – is in red-hot form after his 49 points against the Bulldogs last weekend.

The Welkom outfit, on the other hand, will be hoping that strong midfielder Dominic Smit, the leading try scorer so far this campaign with six, can continue his scoring streak.

The Cheetahs fielded a young team side last week and came off second best against the experienced Pumas.

However, this weekend the Free Staters are favourites to bounce back when they welcome EP to Bloemfontein.

Saturday’s remaining fixture should see one of the Leopards (hosts) and Border break their winless streak when the two sides meet in Potchefstroom.

The weekend action will be concluded with an exciting derby between First Division rivals the Eagles and Cavaliers on Sunday.

Zane Kirchner’s SWD team snatched a hard-fought 24-23 away win last week over EP, and they will be fancying their chances at Outeniqua Park against the resurgent Bolanders.

The Eagles sit one place above the Cavaliers on the log, and the team from the Southern Cape will have to keep visiting flyhalf Garth April in check if they want to succeed.

The 10 participating provincial teams are battling it out over a single round of league matches, before the top two at the end of the league phase will contest the first SA Cup Final.

The main aim of the SA Cup is to fill the gap between the pre-season and the Currie Cup campaign.

All of this week’s fixtures are below …

SA Cup standings after three rounds

Friday, April 12

Pumas v Falcons

Teams

Pumas team to face Falcons

Falcons: TBC

Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs

Saturday, April 13

Cheetahs v Eastern Province

Teams

Cheetahs team v Eastern Province SA CUP 2024

 

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Paul Mente

Leopards v Border

Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni

Griquas v Griffons

Venue: Stadium, Kimberley
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Christopher Allison

Sunday, April 14

SWD Eagles v Boland Cavaliers

Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Griffin Colby

 

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