With six teams in the race for the three positions in the competition – sponsored by DirextAxis Financial Services – the second-placed Valke are facing their toughest challenge yet this season when they take on the in-form Jaguares XV, who have already booked their semi-final berth.
Defending First Division champions, the SWD Eagles, kick off the action on Friday against the EP Elephants in George, while the Leopards take on Boland in Potchefstroom, the Valke and log-leaders, the Jaguares XV, face off in Brakpan, and the Down Touch Griffons meet the Border Bulldogs in Welkom on Saturday.
The top-of-the-table clash between the Valke and Jaguares XV is expected to be a cracker with both sides in good form this season, although the East Randers’ depth will be tested with a number of their players in action in an international tournament in Australia.
The Argentineans have been in superb form on attack and defence, which has seen them win all their matches with bonus points to book a berth in the semi-finals.
The Valke, however, are also unbeaten after three victories and two draws, and with the prospect of cementing their place in the semi-finals with a victory dangling in front of them, they are expected to give everything on the field.
Defensively, these two teams are the best in the competition, but with the Jaguares XV boasting 319 points in their five matches, the clash will serve as a true test for the Valke’s defence.
The clash between the SWD Eagles and EP Elephants – who are only one log point apart on the standings – is expected to be hard-fought given the fact that while a victory could place them in a good position to possibly finish the pool stage as one of the semi-finalists next week, a defeat could dash their hopes completely.
Eastern Province have been superior on attack and defence this season, although SWD will consider themselves unlucky after earning one win and two draws in their five outings, which will inspire them.
Boland and the Leopards are in a similar situation, with the men from the Winelands holding a narrow one-point lead on the table going into the round. With Boland having scored 29 points more than their opponents in their five matches, they may enter the game with a mental edge, but the Leopards boast a slightly better defence, which they will want to build on in the hope of earning their third win of the season.
Interestingly, the Leopards emerged victorious in all of the matches between the sides dating back to 2013, but they will be wary of the fact that this will have no significance on match-day.
The Down Touch Griffons will enter their match against the Border Bulldogs as favourites after suffering only one defeat in the competition so far, while the men from East London have yet to win a match. The hosts’ form aside, the fact that a victory may just be enough to allow the Free Staters to book a semi-final berth this weekend, is sure to inspire them even more.
Border, however, will have to tighten up their defence, in particular, to keep alive hopes of a victory after conceding 220 points in their last five matches.
Currie Cup First Division Round 6 Fixtures:
Friday, 9 August:
SWD Eagles v EP Elephants
Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Referee: Egon Seconds
Saturday, 10 August:
Leopards v Boland Cavaliers
Venue: Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Valke v Jaguares XV
Venue: Bosman Stadium, Brakpan
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Down Touch Griffons v Border Bulldogs
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Quinton Immelman