Cape Town - The pool stages of the Currie Cup Premier Division will come to a thrilling end next weekend as six of the seven participating teams still have a chance of featuring in the semi-finals after some surprise results this weekend.
The Sharks, who enjoyed a bye, have already secured a home semi-final and they will earn a home final if they progress to the last round, but the venue of the second semi-final and the three sides that will join them in the playoff stages will only be determined at the conclusion of the final round-robin match.
The Golden Lions scored three second half tries against Western Province in Johannesburg on Sunday to fight their way back from a 17-10 half-time deficit for a valuable 29-20 victory. The win catapulted them from the foot of the log into fourth place, which kept them in the race for a playoff spot.
Western Province delivered a strong first-half showing in the heavy rain, which saw play suspended briefly due to a hail storm, with the side scoring two converted tries and a penalty goal, while the hosts crossed the tryline once to add to their penalty goal. The Golden Lions, however, regained their composure in the second half and applied pressure on the visitors, while they did well to convert their chances into points, resulting in them touching down three times to secure a bonus-point win.
Western Province remained in second place on the standings despite the defeat, but with the Free State Cheetahs, Golden Lions and Blue Bulls also within range of securing the remaining home semi-final, the Capetonians will have to topple log-leaders, the Sharks, in Durban next week to achieve that feat.
In Bloemfontein the Blue Bulls kept alive their semi-final hopes as hat-tricks by centre Burger Odendaal and fullback Warrick Gelant contributed to a fine performance, which earned them a convincing 64-36 victory against the Free State Cheetahs.
The visitors showed their intent in the first half as they ran hard on attack, and this paid off as they secured their bonus point in the 33rd minute, with the side taking a 26-22 half-time lead. They built on this in the second half and increased their try tally to 10, while they limited the hosts to five - three of which were scored by replacement flank Daniel Maartens.
Griquas, meanwhile, recovered from an 18-point deficit against the Pumas in Nelspruit to win their final match of the season 38-35, with a penalty goal proving to be the difference on the scoreboard.
The result saw the Griquas and the Pumas finish the penultimate round at the bottom of the log tied on 26 points.
The match was thoroughly entertaining as the hosts took control in the first half and earned their bonus point by the 26th minute and an encouraging 28-10 halftime lead. The visitors, however, fought back strongly and the rewards followed as they matched the Pumas’ five converted tries in the match, which resulted in their early penalty goal giving them the edge on the scoreboard.
Currie Cup Premier Division Round 13 results and scorers:
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 36 (22) Blue Bulls 64 (26)
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Lloyd Greeff, Daniel Maartens (3), Stef Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Robbie Petzer (3), Juan-Phillip Smith. Penalty Goal: Robbie Petzer
Blue Bulls - Tries: Ivan Van Zyl, Warrick Gelant (3), Burger Odendaal (3), Duncan Matthews, Johan Grobbelaar, Tim Agaba. Conversions: Marnitz Louis Boshoff (6), Tony Jantjies
Pumas 35 (28) Griquas 38 (10)
Pumas – Tries: Marko Janse van Rensburg, Willie Engelbrecht (2), Hennie Skorbinski, Frankie Herne. Conversions: Kobus Marais (5)
Griquas - Tries: Wendal Wehr, Steyno Steyn, Tertius Kruger (2), Ederies Arendse. Conversions: George Whitehead (4), Andre Swarts. Penalty Goal: George Whitehead
Golden Lions 29 (10) Western Province 20 (17)
Golden Lions - Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi, Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, Sylvian Mahuza, Rhyno Herbst. Conversions: Ashlon Davids, Jaco Van der Walt (2). Penalty Goal: Jaco Van der Walt
Western Province - Tries: Nizaam Carr, Robert Du Preez. Conversions: Robert Du Preez (2). Penalty Goals: Robert Du Preez (2)