Vodacom Cup

Vodacom Cup action hotting up

2012-05-02 15:47
Vodacom Cup (File)
Cape Town - The winner of the 15th Vodacom Cup will be crowned in a few weeks’ time, but this weekend quarter-final action takes place in Kimberley, Nelspruit, Durban and Cape Town.

Interestingly, seven of last year’s eight quarter-finalists are back, the only team not making it this year being the Free State XV. They have been “replaced” in the 2012 playoffs by the EP Kings, who missed out last year after they were docked points for fielding two ineligible players.

The Sharks XV, second in the South Section after winning five from seven, will have their work cut out for them when they host the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup quarter-final round at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon at 14:00.

The men from Pretoria, who ended third in the North Section with four wins, one draw and one defeat, have been superb in Vodacom Cup playoffs, reaching the final every year since 2006, when the Sharks XV, then still called the Wildebeest, lost in the final to the Falcons in Brakpan.

In the history of the competition, the Blue Bulls have won the title three times, finished runners up six times, lost in the semi-finals once and lost in the quarter-finals once as well.

On the contrary, the KwaZulu-Natalians have only reached one final and lost in five semi-finals and one quarter-final.

Although they have lost three from the last five finals, the Blue Bulls know how to win playoffs. This was perfectly illustrated last year, when they almost went all the way after finishing fourth in the North Section.

In the end, the Pampas XV had too much fire power for the Blue Bulls to take their maiden Vodacom Cup title by winning the final by 14-9 in Potchefstroom.

The Argentineans have to travel to Kimberley, where the face Griquas - along with the Golden Lions the most successful Vodacom Cup team ever with four titles. This is the first quarter-final of the weekend and is scheduled for 15:00 at GWK Park on Friday.

Griquas won the North Section (five wins and one defeat), while the Pampas XV struggled to replicate their 2011 form and finished fourth in the South, winning four and losing three league matches. In their 10 playoff appearances, the team from the Northern Cape have only lost in the quarter-finals once before.

The top side in the South Section and the only unbeaten team thus far this year with seven victories from seven matches, Western Province, will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s quarter-finals when they host the Golden Lions at City Park in Crawford on Saturday at 15:30.

In 2011, the Capetonians lost their home quarter-final against the Sharks XV by 21-19. They have only reached the semi-finals twice and lost four quarter-finals, but this year WP will be looking to go all the way.

The Golden Lions have not had things go their way in 2012 and they finished fourth in the North Section, having won three of their six league matches.

While the Capetonians will take to the field as favourites, they will be mindful of the Golden Lions’ solid playoff record, even though the Gautengers have not gone further than the quarter-finals since winning the last of their four titles way back in 2004.

On Friday evening in Nelspruit, the two quarter-finalists that have the worst playoff record of all the teams that qualified this year, the Pumas and the EP Kings, will square off.

Between them, they have only reached the Vodacom Cup playoffs four times - the Kings have lost both their quarter-final appearances, while the Pumas have lost one quarter- and one semi-final. The Kings’ playoff record would’ve been better if it wasn’t for last year’s ineligibility debacle.

The Pumas finished second in the North Section by virtue of getting two more bonus points than the Blue Bulls as they also won four, lost one and drew one in 2012. The Kings’ record this season reads won five, lost two and they finished third in the South.

Vodacom Cup fixtures:

Quarter-finals:

Friday, May 4 2012

Griquas v Pampas XV
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

Pumas v EP Kings

Kick-off: 19:10
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen

Saturday, May 5 2012

Sharks XV v Blue Bulls
Kick-off: 14:00
Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

Western Province v Golden Lions
Kick-off: 15:30
Venue: City Park, Crawford
Referee: Ben Crouse
 

Read more on:    vodacom cup  |  rugby
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