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POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 02: Loftus Morrison of Leopards in action with Anrich Rachter and Reg Muller of Valke during the Absa Currie Cup Division 1 Semi Final match between Leopards and Hino Valke at Profert Olen Park on October 02, 2015 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images)

POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 02: Loftus Morrison of Leopards in action with Anrich Rachter and Reg Muller of Valke during the Absa Currie Cup Division 1 Semi Final match between Leopards and Hino Valke at Profert Olen Park on October 02, 2015 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images)

The SuperSport Rugby Challenge will this weekend not only test the undefeated status of the Xerox Golden Lions, but also provide the team the opportunity to expand their fan base as the tournament’s second Rugby Festival will be played at Bill Jardine Stadium in Industria, Johannesburg on Sunday.

The Xerox Golden Lions, who have won both their opening fixtures, can expect massive opposition from East Rand opponents, the Hino Valke, who will make the short trip west full of determination to improve their third place log standing in the North Section.

Also in action at the Festival are Steval Pumas, who will face the Windhoek Lager Welwitschias in the first of the provincial double headers that are proving to be highly appreciated by local crowds.

The Steval Pumas opened their North Section fixtures with a good win over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria, but then dropped the result against the Xerox Golden Lions XV last weekend and the Namibians cannot expect any mercy.

The Windhoek team has struggled with the intensity of their opponents so far in the tournament, giving away most points in the latter stages of matches, so will be keen to up their efforts in the final quarter of the clash.

The stadium will be packed to the rafters from early on, as the local Raiders side will take on Wanderers in a Golden Lions Rugby Union league match, with qualification to the Gold Cup the ultimate prize.The action in the rest of the tournament starts on Friday with two big local derbies in the Central and South sections. In Bloemfontein, the Toyota Free State XV will face a determined Tafel Lager Griquas and later that evening SWD’s Eagles welcome Boland to Outeniqua Park. Neither team at the picturesque Southern Cape venue have tasted victory yet, so it will be a fierce battle for supremacy.

Both heartland teams suffered home defeats already and will be under pressure to make up points in order to catch the Leopards, who have won all three of their matches and are leading the pack in the Central section.

The Leopards travel to Margate on the South Coast of Kwazulu-Natal to face the Cell C Sharks XV, with yet another region of the country to be served up provincial action by the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

The home side were bounced off by the Tafel Lager Griquas in the opening round, but hit their straps in their second outing against the Down Touch Griffons, scoring eight tries in the process. This could cause some headaches to the Leopards’ defence, which has conceded 12 tries in three matches.

This headache could be solved by Leopards lock, Loftus Morrison though. The 24-year old from North West University’s Potchefstroom campus graduated in Pharmacy already, allowing him to now focus on his rugby career.

The former pupil of Witteberg High School in Bethlehem has proved to be a real stalwart for the NWU-Pukke in recent years, playing in 43 consecutive matches for the team. He was not only part of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International winning side of 2016, but also represented the Varsity Cup Dream Team in 2017 and is becoming a vital cog in the Leopards’ engine room since his debut in 2015.

There are four televised matches this weekend. The EP Kings take on the Border Bulldogs at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in what can be considered mini-trials for the Southern Kings, with the match a curtain raiser for the Southern Kings clash against the Cell C Sharks in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. There will be a delayed broadcast at 20h00 on Saturday, but all three matches at the Rugby Festival will be live on SuperSport 210.

  • Gates at Bill Jardine will open at 09h00 and tickets will be available at the gate, free of charge on a first come, first served basis. There will be spot-prizes given out during the day to female spectators as the Rugby Challenge contribution to Mother’s Day.

The fixtures for the weekend are:

Friday 12 May:

Toyota Free State XV vs Tafel Lager Griquas

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Quinton Immelman Quinton

SWD Eagles vs Boland Cavaliers

Outeniqua Park, George

Kick-off: 19h00

Referee: Pro Legoete

Saturday 13 May:

EP Kings vs Border Bulldogs

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Kick-off: 14h30

Referee: AJ Jacobs

TV: SS1 (delayed 20h00)

Cell C Sharks XV vs Leopards

Douglas Mitchell Sports field, Margate

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

Sunday 14 May:

Raiders vs Wanderers (Gold Cup qualifier)

Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg

Kick-off: 11h00

Referee: Pieter Maritz

TV: SS210

Steval Pumas vs Windhoek Draught Welwitschias

Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg

Kick-off: 13h00

Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni

TV: SS210

Xerox Golden Lions XV vs Hino Valke

Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Egon Seconds

TV: SS210

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