The Currie Cup First Division teams will have everything to play for on Saturday in the third-last pool round of the competition – sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis – as the top-end of the log begins to take shape and those languishing at the bottom could drop out of the running for semi-final berths.
The clash between the Hino Valke and Boland Cavaliers in Kempton Park should deliver exciting action given the balanced results between the sides and high stakes with the semi-final approaching.
While the hosts will be looking to work their way into the top four on the log, the Boland Cavaliers will be determined to remain in the top three. The Hino Valke won two of the last three home games against the Wellington side in the competition – the last of which was a convincing 76-12 victory – but the visitors from the Western Cape have won three of their last six match-ups.
The Down Touch Griffons, meanwhile, will have their sights on strengthening their position at the top of the standings and extending their unbeaten run to five matches when they face the winless Eastern Province in Welkom.
The last time the teams met in the tournament was in 2013, with the Eastern Cape side emerging victorious. But the Down Touch Griffons have been one of the top sides in the Currie Cup First Division in the last few seasons, and they have been in solid form this year, which they will want to build on this weekend.
The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will have their sights set on possibly playing their way into the top four on the log when they host the SWD Eagles in Windhoek. The visitors have won two matches so far and the hosts one, although the Namibians have scored 12 more tries than their counterparts from George. They will, however, have to tighten up their defence to keep alive their hopes of a victory.
And in East London, Border, who come off their first win, will have their work cut out against the Leopards, who are determined to remain in the running for a home semi-final.
The Leopards have been superior on attack and defence, with the side boasting the most tries in the first four rounds, meaning the hosts will have to step up their attack and deliver a solid defensive effort to counter the visitors. The Leopards have won six of the seven matches between the sides dating back to 2013, but Border will draw inspiration from the fact that their last two defeats were by two points.
Currie Cup First Division Round 5 fixtures (Saturday, 23 September):
Hino Valke v Boland Cavaliers
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Mpho Matsaung & Hernus Coetzee
Down Touch Griffons v Eastern Province
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Vusi Msibi
Assistant Referees: Eon van Zyl & Maria Mabote
Border Bulldogs v Leopards
Venue: BCM Stadium, East London
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Paul Mente & JP Clements
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias v SWD Eagles
Venue: Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Referees: Local appointments