No lack of spice when Cheetahs, Western Province meet in Currie Cup
CAPE TOWN - Western Province and the Cheetahs will both have everything to play for when they meet in Bloemfontein this weekend, that's for sure.
Proper fights can be expected this weekend, I mean, when you look at how tight the upper half of the Currie Cup log is with just two rounds of action remaining before we head into the playoffs, how can we expect anything else?
As things stand, the Bulls are at the top of the points table on 35 points while Province are in second spot with a tally of 31. The Lions (29), Sharks (28) and Cheetahs (26) are all in positions to fight it out for a place in the last four.
The fact that all these teams have a realistic chance of occupying a top two spot makes things interesting. So, the race is on.
This weekend, the Pumas will host the Lions in Nelspruit, the Durbanites will be awaiting Griquas at the Shark Tank, and in the big one, WP will travel to Bloem, where they have a chance to move closer to securing a semi-final berth for Newlands. Next Wednesday, the Bulls will host the Lions in a catch-up match at Loftus.
While Western Province's hunger for a home semi will no doubt be boosted by their ambition to make the most of their final year at Newlands Stadium, it wouldn't be far-fetched to say that the Cheetahs will have an added motivation apart from making the semis – proving that they are, in fact, PRO 16 quality following their snubbing when the South African Rugby Union decided the SA Super Rugby franchises would form part of the European competition from next year.
They did it against the Sharks at the weekend, humbling them 37 points to 10 (despite copping three yellow cards in the second half, by the way), and it's only natural to imagine that the Springbok-wealthy
Province would make another attractive mount on the Cheetahs' wall.
WP may be sitting pretty at the moment, but neither of their last two games (they face the Sharks on January 9 in their final match) will be easy.
Following their impressive win over the Sharks, Cheetahs boss Hawies Fourie made it clear just how badly they want to build on that result when he said: “We are looking forward to the match.
“For us, the last four matches were all semi-finals – if we lose one, we are out of the competition and that applies this weekend as well.”
It may be fifth against second in the Free State on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm), but if you look at the standings and how close things are, this one game alone can have a huge say in how things play out from here on (it's 2020, so we have to be cognisant of the possible disruptions Covid-19 can bring as well).
The race is on.