The battle for the remaining position in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division will begin on Friday as six of the seven teams involved take to the field in the opening round of the official qualifiers. The qualifying rounds will run until July 19, with the team earning the most log points after their three home and away matches, earning the right to compete in the Premier Division. The participating teams are GWK Griquas, the Leopards, Border Bulldogs, SWD Eagles, the Valke, Griffons and the Boland Cavaliers.
Vodacom Cup champions and 2013 Currie Cup Premier Division participants, Griquas, will meet the Border Bulldogs in the opening match in Kimberley on Friday, while the Leopards take on the SWD Eagles at Olën Park in Potchefstroom and the Griffons meet the Boland Cavaliers at the North West Stadium in Welkom on Saturday. The Valke, meanwhile, have a bye.
In Kimberley Griquas will enter their clash against the Border Bulldogs as overwhelming favourites with home ground advantage and confidence counting in their favour after being crowned the Vodacom Cup champions last month. They also boast a team featuring several quality players, meaning Border will have to match them up-front and defend like demons. The East London side’s defence, in particular, let them down in the Vodacom Cup competition earlier this year as they conceded on average six tries a match. Their forwards will also have their work cut out as they have to produce a solid performance to counter the strong home pack, while good discipline will be vital as Griquas fullback Gouws Prinsloo poses a threat with the boot.
The clash between the Leopards and SWD Eagles in Potchefstroom, meanwhile, is expected to be tight as both teams boast several playmakers. While the Leopards will rely heavily on the vast experience of veteran Springbok flyhalf Andrè Pretorius and the impressive skills of wing Luther Obi and centres Adriaan Engelbrecht and George Tossel, the SWD Eagles will look to wing Alshaun Bock, flyhalf Karlo Aspeling and eighthman Davon Raubenheimer to work them onto the front foot.
In Welkom the clash between the Down Touch Griffons and Boland Cavaliers could also prove to be a close encounter. The forward battle, in particular, is expected to be decisive. The Cavaliers will be especially wary of Griffons eighthman Nicky Steyn and centre Japie Nel, who have a knack at crossing the try line. The hosts, meanwhile, need to be disciplined throughout the match as Boland fullback Eric Zana has the potential to keep the scoreboard ticking should the penalty count favour his team.
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division round-one qualifiers:
Griquas vs Border Bulldogs
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Date: 6 June 2014
Leopards vs SWD Eagles
Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Date: 7 June 2014
Griffons vs Boland Cavaliers
Venue: North West Stadium, Welkom
Date: 7 June 2014