Vodacom Cup: Round 5 Preview
The two most successful teams in Vodacom Cup history, the Golden Lions and Griquas, face each other in a vital match for both sides as the race to the play-offs heat up.
With eight titles between them, the Golden Lions and Griquas have dominated the competition since the inception of the Vodacom Cup in 1998, having won four titles each.
Both teams need to return to winning ways if they are going to qualify for the next stage of the competition however, with the quarter-finals just three weeks away.
Griquas, currently third in the North Section, have a slightly easier route to the playoffs than the Golden Lions, who will treat Friday afternoon’s clash at the UJ Stadium in Johannesburg as a must-win.
Both these teams lost last week and to make matters even trickier for the Golden Lions, they still have to travel to Nelspruit next week to face the log-leading Pumas.
The pick of the matches in the South Section will kick off at Newlands on Saturday, when the Vodacom Cup champions of 2011 and 2012, the Pampas XV and Western Province, square off.
They occupy positions two and three on the log and are in good positions to make the play-offs, but defeat on Saturday could put a dent in their ambitions to gain that important home ground advantage in the quarters.
The front runners in the two sections, the Sharks XV (South) and Pumas (North), play at home this weekend and should have too much fire-power for the Boland Cavaliers and Blue Bulls. Victory should be enough to secure both these top teams a place in the playoffs.
After losing at home last weekend, the Blue Bulls and Free State XV will be hell bent on getting back to winning ways when they travel to Springs and Alice on Saturday to face the Valke and Border Bulldogs respectively.
This match is especially crucial for the Free State XV, after losing their last three matches. The Bulldogs, like the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, have not won a single match yet this season.
Two interesting mid-table clashes are scheduled for Friday. In Potchefstroom, the Leopards XV will be looking to hang on to their second position on the North Section log against the Griffons, who will be travelling to Profert Ölen Park in a confident mood after they beat the Golden Lions last weekend.
And at the Central Grounds in Uitenhage, the EP Kings and SWD Eagles will fight it out to remain in playoff contention in the South Section, with the hosts probably in a better position following their good win over the Free State XV in Bloemfontein last weekend. The Eagles though can never be discounted, especially since they ran the Sharks XV close in George last Friday.