The semi-finalists in the Carling Currie Cup Premier and First Divisions were confirmed this weekend following some nail-biting action, with eight teams booking their spots in next weekend’s four knock-out clashes.
In the Premier Division, the Toyota Cheetahs secured top spot after defeating the Vodacom Bulls 35-5 on Saturday evening in Bloemfontein, Windhoek Draught Griquas edged the Airlink Pumas 45-44 in their Friday evening thriller in Nelspruit, with both progressing to the semi-finals; and earlier on Friday DHL WP dashed the Cell C Sharks’ playoff hopes with a 28-21 win in Stellenbosch.
Meanwhile, in the First Division, the SWD Eagles and the Black Lion of Georgia booked their playoff spots for next weekend alongside runaway league winners, the Down Touch Griffons, and second-placed Eastern Province, following the last round of league fixtures.
With the league phase of the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division completed, the Toyota Cheetahs finished in first place with 48 points, followed by the Vodacom Bulls on 47. Windhoek Draught Griquas follow in third (36 points) while the Airlink Pumas (29 points) complete next weekend’s semi-finalists.
As a result of their defeat in Stellenbosch, the Cell C Sharks missed out on a top-four spot and finished fifth on 27 points, followed by DHL WP (19) and the Sigma Lions (15).
Next weekend’s semi-final fixtures see the Toyota Cheetahs host the Airlink Pumas in Bloemfontein, while the Vodacom Bulls – defending champions of SA's premier domestic competition – face Windhoek Draught Griquas on the same day in the other semi-final in Pretoria. All match details will be confirmed shortly.
The Toyota Cheetahs rediscovered their mojo at just the right time to defeat the Vodacom Bulls 35-5 on Saturday evening in Bloemfontein, and seal top spot on the Carling Currie Cup standings.
Their splendid bonus-point win allowed them to pass the defending champions from Pretoria to the top spot on the log, finishing with one point more than the men from Pretoria.
Having successfully prevented Gert Smal’s team from gaining any points from this exciting clash, the team coached by Hawies Fourie also earned the right to host the Final should they win next weekend's semi-final in Bloemfontein against the Airlink Pumas.
Toyota Cheetahs 35 (28) – Tries: Louis van der Westhuizen, Daniel Kasende David Brits, Clayton Blommetjies. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (5).
Vodacom Bulls 5 (0) – Try: Stedman Gans.
Windhoek Draught Griquas replacement utility back Fiela Boshoff kicked a brilliant last-gasp penalty goal to steer his side to a thrilling 45-44 Carling Currie Cup win over the Airlink Pumas on at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
The result means that the team from Kimberley finish in third place on the log with 36 points for a spot in next weeks’ semi-finals, while the Airlink Pumas finished fourth on 29 points thanks to their two bonus-points, also securing a place in the top four.
The visiting side from the Northern Cape scored twice early on but it was the Mpumalanga outfit who quickly shifted into a higher gear to outscore the visitors by three tries to two, whilst also adding two penalty goal kicks and a drop goal for a handy 30-14 half-team lead.
But the team from Kimberley showed their famous grit and determination to firstly fight their way back steadily throughout the second half, placing themselves within striking distance at the right time for Boshoff to step up and finish the job, which left the Airlink Pumas and their supporters shell shocked.
Airlink Pumas 44 (30) – Tries: Tapiwa Mafura (2), Ignatius Prinsloo, Chriswill September, Jade Stighling. Conversions: Eddie Fouche (5). Penalty goals: Fouche (2).
Windhoek Draught Griquas 45 (14) – Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Hanru Sirgel, John Mulder, Munier Hartzenberg, Rynhardt Jonker, Werner Gouws. Conversions: George Whitehead (2), Fiela Boshoff (4). Penalty goal: Boshoff.
DHL Western Province snuffed out the Cell C Sharks’ Carling Currie Cup semi-final hopes with a 28-21 win in Friday afternoon’s coastal derby in Stellenbosch.
Needing a win to keep their playoff aspirations alive, the Cell C Sharks pushed the envelope from the kick-off but weren’t clinical enough to put points on the board. The more minutes ticked away, the tenser they became and the more mistakes they made.
With their season hanging by a thread, coach Ettienne Fynn made a raft of changes at the start of the second half, which brought a change in momentum, with the visitors scoring three converted tries to trail 22-21 with 17 minutes remaining.
However, DHL Western Province closed the game out well, pinning the visitors in their half, with Smit adding two penalty goals to end their challenging season with a win, and seal the Cell C Sharks’ fate.
DHL Western Province 28 (15) – Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Thomas Bursey, Bobby Alexander. Conversions: Cornel Smit (2). Penalty goals: Smit (3).
Cell C Sharks 21 (0) – Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Le Roux Roets, Marnus Potgieter. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (3).
Carling Currie Cup First Division
First Division winners Down Touch Griffons (44 points) were not in action over the weekend but the Northern Free State side were safe as runaway leaders, while EP (32 points) did enough to also book a home semi-final next weekend.
That left two spots up for grabs, which were filled by the SWD Eagles (29) who secured third place thanks to their comprehensive 45-7 bonus-point triumph over Border in East London, and the Black Lion (also 29 points) who were 24-14 winners over the Leopards in Potchefstroom.
An ecstatic crowd of over 50 000 people watched the Simbas beat EP 41-24 in Nairobi, Kenya, while the Valke outplayed the Zimbabwe Goshawks 26-16 in Cape Town.
The Valke fell just one point short of a place in the semi-finals as they had to settle for 28 league points and fifth spot on the log. Boland (26 points), Leopards and Simbas (both 18), Zimbabwe Goshawks (12) and Border (0) completed the rest of the standings.
Carling Currie Cup First Division results (Saturday, 11 June):
Zimbabwe Goshawks 16, Valke 26
Border Bulldogs 7, SWD Eagles 45
Black Lion 24, Leopards 14
Kenya Simbas 41, Eastern Province 24