Cheetahs‚ Bulls secure spots as four other teams jostle for remaining two Currie Cup semi berths

25 September 2016 - 18:04 By Chumani Bambani

It has been a fairytale Currie Cup season for the Free State Cheetahs who have won all seven of their matches this season‚ with one more round of matches remaining before the semifinal stages. The Cheetahs’ 52-10 win against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night ensured that the Free State side planted their feet as the No1 side on the Currie Cup log in the round-robin stages‚ thereby cementing a home semifinal in Bloemfontein on October 15.Coach Franco Smith’s side has been dominant this season‚ showing a continuation of momentum from their Super Rugby campaign and winning all seven of their matches played so far.No matter what happens when the Cheetahs face the Griquas in the last match of the round-robin stages‚ at the Free State Stadium‚ on Saturday afternoon the side will not be knocked out of the top spot on the log.With 34 points on the table – four clear of the second-placed Blue Bulls‚ who have completed their complement of eight matches – no team can catch up to the side from Bloemfontein.The Cheetahs will be hoping to repeat the feat of last season’s winners‚ the Golden Lions‚ who clinched the domestic title having been unbeaten throughout their campaign.The last time the Cheetahs reached a final in the Currie Cup was in 2009 when they were beaten 36-24 by the Bulls and two seasons earlier‚ the side had lifted the trophy in front of their home crowd in Bloemfontein with a narrow 20-18 victory against the Lions.The Bulls also breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when they returned from Wellington with a bonus-point 48-26 win against Boland Cavaliers.The victory ensured a semifinal berth for the Pretoria side‚ who currently occupy the second spot on the log.The Bulls will rely on the a favour from Gauteng neighbours‚ the Lions‚ to prevent the Sharks from acquiring a bonus point on Friday‚ which could see the Durbanites and Bulls exchange places in second and third place on the log.There will be an intense jostle for the top four finishes in the competition.Western Province currently occupy fourth place on the log‚ while the Lions who are in fifth and the sixth-placed Griquas could also make a late surge for a knockout round berth.The Lions were brutal on Saturday when they scored a mammoth 11 tries and conceded only one when they beat the Eastern Province Kings 71-7 in Port Elizabeth.Western Province also showed their intent of vying for the title with a 52-31 win against the Griquas in Kimberley this weekend.This week the Lions will be hosting the Sharks at Ellis Park at 5pm on Friday‚ while Western Province will be at home at Newlands Stadium where they will face Boland at 7.10pm.In the bottom-of-the-log clash‚ the Kings and Pumas‚ who are both yet to claim a victory‚ will battle it out at the Nelson Mandela Bay at 6pm on Friday.TMG Digital

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