With one round remaining in the league phase of the Currie Cup, six of the seven teams are in the playoff frame.
The log-leading Sharks enjoyed a bye during Round 13 with the guarantee of a home semi-final, but the venue of the second semi-final – and the three sides that will join the Durbanites in the final four – will only be determined this week.
The Golden Lions scored three tries in the second half of a 29-20 comeback win against Western Province in Johannesburg on Sunday. The result catapulted the Lions from the foot of the log into fourth place.
WP were strong in the first half, despite heavy rain and a flash hail storm that suspended play briefly.
The Lions regained their composure in the second half and converted their chances into three tries to secure a bonus-point win.
Province remained in second place on the standings despite the defeat, but with the Free State Cheetahs, Lions and Blue Bulls also within range of securing the remaining home semi-final, the Capetonians must win in Durban this week to secure a Newlands playoff.
In Bloemfontein, the Bulls kept alive their semi-final hopes as centre Burger Odendaal and fullback Warrick Gelant each scored a hat-trick in a convincing 64-36 victory against the Cheetahs.
The visitors showed their intent in the first half as they ran hard on attack, and this paid off as they secured the bonus point in the 33rd minute and a 26-22 halftime lead. They built on this in the second half and increased their try tally to 10, while limiting the Cheetahs to five – three of which were scored by replacement flanker 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.
The result saw 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.
Top point-scorers after Round 13
George Whitehead (Griquas) – 96
Kobus Marais (Pumas) – 65
Tony Jantjies (Blue Bulls) – 64
Andre Swarts (Griquas) – 63
Jaco van der Walt (Golden Lions) – 60
Top try-scorers after Round 13
Seabelo Senatla (Western Province) – 9
Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls) – 9
Sbusiso Nkosi (Sharks ) – 8
Ederies Arendse (Griquas) – 7
Currie Cup results and scorers:
Free State Cheetahs 36 (22) Blue Bulls 64 (26)
Cheetahs – Tries: Lloyd Greeff, Daniel Maartens (3), Stef Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Robbie Petzer (3), Juan-Phillip Smith. Penalty Goal: Robbie Petzer.
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)
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.
WP – Tries: Nizaam Carr, Robert Du Preez. Conversions: Robert Du Preez (2). Penalty Goals: Robert Du Preez (2).