Currie Cup playoff race hots up
Cape Town - The race for playoff spots and home-ground advantage in the six-team Currie Cup Premier Division hots up this weekend with only three rounds remaining for teams to break clear from the pack and book their places in the final four.
The Free State Cheetahs, with just 12 points from their seven matches, have the most ground to make up if they are to stake a semi-final claim.
Naka Drotské's men are at home to fourth-placed Griquas on Saturday, whom they trail by just three points. The Cheetahs will be looking for a similar performance to that which they delivered in Kimberley last month when they came away from GWK Park with a 29-16 win.
In Saturday's other match - both of which kick off at the earlier time of 14:00 to accommodate the Springboks' Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria - third-placed Western Province, on 20 points, entertain table-topping defending champions the Golden Lions at Newlands.
The Lions, despite losing the likes of flyhalf Elton Jantjies and utility back Jaco Taute to Springbok duty, will be full of confidence following their 28-22 victory over the Sharks in Johannesburg last week - a result which took the Gauteng side to 24 points - three clear of their Durban-based rivals and four ahead of WP.
And in the weekend's first match, the fifth-placed Blue Bulls, on 13 points, travel to Durban to take on the second-placed Sharks, having been buoyed by their 34-30 win in Pretoria last weekend over the Cheetahs - a result which ended a lean spell for coach Pine Pienaar and his men.
Blue Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouché tops the Premier Division point-scoring log after Round 7, with 102 points made up of 12 conversions, 25 penalties and a drop goal. Behind Fouch in tied second place are Sharks centre Meyer Bosman on 91 and WP flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis on 88.
Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane, Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule and Blue Bulls loose forward CJ Stander are the joint top try-scorers with five touchdowns apiece.