The pressure will be firmly on Griquas to win by a bonus point margin against the SWD Eagles in George on Saturday if they want to clinch promotion to the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division. Although unbeaten after five matches, GWK Griquas (23 points) currently lead the Leopards (22) by a single point going into the final round of qualification matches. The Leopards tackle the Border Bulldogs on their home turf in Potchefstroom on Saturday and they are most likely to collect the maximum five points against their last placed opposition.
Although coming close on two occasions, the Bulldogs have lost all five of their previous matches. The Leopards lost by a single point against Griquas in Kimberley earlier on, but that reverse apart, they have been in rampant mood for much of the campaign. Two weeks ago they thumped Griffons 70-25 and last week defeated Regent Boland 55-23 in Wellington, while Griquas downed the Valke 40-25.
Although out of the race for top spot, the third-placed SWD should provide the visiting Griquas with a stern test at Outeniqua Park. Should Griquas win but fail to score four tries and the Leopards collect five points against Border, then the two teams will be tied on top of the log standings with 27 points each. Such a scenario will then tip the qualification scale heavily towards the Leopards, who currently have a far healthier points difference (+127) compared to that of Griquas (+100).
The men from Potch have also scored more tries (36) then Griquas (27) and they have a healthier tries difference (26) compared to the log leaders (15). Despite their unbeaten run of five matches, the Kimberley outfit only collected three bonus points compared to the free-scoring Leopards’ six thus far, which have allowed them to stay within in touching distance of Griquas. Qualification permutations aside, Griquas should still be regarded as favourites to beat the Eagles at home in George.
Griquas welcome the return of utility forward Hilton Lobberts, who have recovered from a facial injury and his physicality will be an added bonus. The Leopards, with their potent backline spearheaded by former Springbok flyhalf Andre Pretorius and featuring speedy Junior Springbok wings Luther Obi and Sylvian Mahuza as well as attacking fullback Hoffman Maritz, should hold to much firepower for Border. In the remaining fixture, the Down Touch Griffons (fourth place) face the Valke (in second last spot) at the North West Stadium in Welkom on Friday afternoon.
Boland have already completed their campaign and will be in action in a friendly match against the Steval Pumas in Middelburg on Friday. Of particular excitement to the travelling team will be the inclusion of five players of the SARU Boland Academy, one of the four regional academies established by SARU in 2013.