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The final weekend of regulation play in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge has turned out to become one of must-wins and desperate results as eight of the 15 teams will try to get into the best possible position for the quarter-finals.

After eight rounds of play, only DHL Western Province are still unbeaten, while at least three others will be trying to secure the necessary points to be able to host the first round of knock-out matches next weekend.

With the top two in each of the North, Central and South Sections guaranteed automatic qualification to the final eight, the two best third-placed teams on log points will also sneak into the play-offs and could provide the highlight in the weekend’s action. A number of permutations exist and results at one venue could determine the fortunes of teams playing at another.

On top of that, the fifth Rugby Festival of this exciting new tournament will also take place on Sunday in Oudtshoorn, where two Gold Cup qualifying games will be played as curtain-raisers to the main match between SWD Eagles and DHL Western Province. The latter already secured top spot in the South, while the Eagles are the only side in the competition yet to register a victory. This clash, to be played on Sunday, will determine the final venues for the play-offs.

The Capetonians (34 log points) look set to finish with the most log points overall, but should they taste defeat in the Klein Karoo, Tafel Lager Griquas (30) or the Xerox Golden Lions XV (31) could pip them in the final act. Both these contenders face a tough assignment though, before they could start planning for a home game.

The Xerox Golden Lions XV will host the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, with all to play for in the North Section. The men from Pretoria need the victory to make sure the Steval Pumas (24) do not move past them into the top two.The Nelspruit side will face Hino Valke on Saturday in the Mbombela Stadium and will know that a victory should secure a top eight position.

The Central Section looks most likely to deliver the other third-placed qualifier. Tafel Lager Griquas will be confident that they could lower the flags of the Down Touch Griffons in Kimberley and top the pool, while the clash between the Toyota Free State XV (22 log points) and Cell C Sharks XV (24 log points) in Bloemfontein will determine the other top two finisher.

The South Section clash between Boland (17 log points) and Eastern Province (20 log points) in yet another new venue, Bredasdorp, will not only determine which one of the two teams will drop out, but could also help Border Bulldogs (22 log points, bye) into the play-offs.

The only teams that have no realistic chance to make the top eight are the Hino Valke and Windhoek Draught Welwitschias (North), Leopards and Down Touch Griffons (Central) and SWD (South), a clear indication of the competitive nature of this inaugural tournament.

The final round of fixtures are:

Friday 23 June:

Tafel Lager Griquas vs Down Touch Griffons

Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Vusi Msibi

Toyota Free State XV vs Cell C Sharks XV

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Xerox Golden Lions XV vs Vodacom Blue Bulls

Orlando Stadium, Soweto

Kick-off: 17h00

Referee: Stuart Berry

TV: SS1

Saturday 24 June:

Boland Cavaliers vs Eastern Province Kings

Bredasdorp Sports Grounds, Bredasdorp

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Quinton Immelman

Steval Pumas vs Hino Valke

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Cwengile Jadezwini

Sunday 25 June 2017 (Rugby Festival):

Evergreens vs Hawston (Gold Cup qualifier)

Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn

Kick-off: 11h00

Referee: Ruhan Meiring

TV: SS210

Bridgton vs Progress (Gold Cup qualifier)

Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn

Kick-off: 13h00

Referee: Sindile Ngcese

TV: SS210

SWD Eagles vs DHL Western Province

Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn

Kick-off: 15h00

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

TV: SS210

The log positions with one round to play are:

NORTH

Pos Teams P W D L PF PA PD TF TA PTS
1 Xerox Golden Lions XV 7 6 0 1 430 159 271 61 20 31
2 Vodacom Blue Bulls 7 5 0 2 327 185 142 47 25 27
3 Steval Pumas 7 4 1 2 267 184 83 37 22 24
4 Hino Valke 7 1 1 5 240 339 -99 34 49 15
5 Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 8 1 0 7 140 537 -397 19 82 6

CENTRAL

Pos Teams P W D L PF PA PD TF TA PTS
1 Tafel Lager Griquas 7 5 1 1 286 178 108 40 25 30
2 Cell C Sharks XV 7 4 1 2 236 140 96 35 18 24
3 Toyota Free State XV 7 3 0 4 243 249 -6 32 32 22
4 Leopards 8 3 0 5 199 276 -77 27 39 17
5 Down Touch Griffons 7 2 0 5 192 313 -121 27 47 12

SOUTH

Pos Teams P W D L PF PA PD TF TA PTS
1 DHL WP 7 7 0 0 266 130 136 38 17 34
2 Border 8 4 0 4 215 264 -49 29 37 22
3 EP Kings 7 4 0 3 187 193 -6 26 26 20
4 Boland 7 3 0 4 164 150 14 20 20 17
5 SWD 7 0 0 7 142 237 -95 19 32 7
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