National Clubs Round-up: Predator clubs head for Ellis Park
The new cross-border Predator Super League heads for the Lions’ den on Saturday when Pirates and Pretoria Police clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg in a curtain-raiser to the sold-out Vodacom Super Rugby playoff match between the MTN Lions and Southern Kings.
The opportunity to play on the hallowed turf where South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup will surely be a career highlight for most of the players involved, while the two sides will also want to end off their respective seasons on a high with a morale-boosting victory.
The Pretoria Bobbies’ season began promisingly with a sixth-placed finish in the inaugural Cell C Community Cup, but Nico Luus’ side suffered three defeats in the Blue Bulls’ Carlton League to finish fourth behind Tuks, Centurion and Oostelikes and so fall out of contention for next year’s national tournament. Police are also out of the running in the Predator, their four points placing them third in Pool D behind leaders UJ (10) and Pirates (6) with just one round to play.
A bonus-point victory for Pirates, who enjoyed a solid 125th-anniversary season in the Golden Lions’ Pirates Grand Challenge, could yet see them qualify for the semi-finals on 17 August, but the smart money is on UJ beating Pretoria Harlequins and then facing either Lions champions Roodepoort or Valke champions Brakpan in the last four.
Saturday’s top-of-the-table Pool A match between Brakpan and Roodepoort is shaping up as one of the most keenly anticipated clashes of the year. Since finishing the Community Cup in third and seventh place respectively, both sides have been unbeaten in their domestic leagues and both have beaten fellow Pool A rivals Tuks in the past fortnight.
The match, which was originally scheduled to also take place at Ellis Park, will now be played at Bosman Stadium after Brakpan elected to rather play in front of their home fans at a venue where the ‘Panne have not lost for two years.
In other Predator matches, Pool B leaders Raiders, who came within a conversion of qualifying for the Community Cup Easter Championships in George, will go through to the Predator semi-finals should they beat second-placed Centurion at home. And should they do so, the Longdale side will most likely set up a rematch against the self-same Rustenburg Impala against whom they drew 30-all in the Community Cup.
Impala lead Pool C by four points from Wits and they will want to make their home-field advantage count when they host high-flying Oostelikes Eagles from Pretoria, who are lying third. In the other match, Wits are expected to grab a full haul against NWU Vaal, which will place the pressure squarely on Impala.
Elsewhere around the country, the race for the remaining slots in the 2014 Community Cup is gathering pace. Seven teams are confirmed for the second edition of SARU’s elite tournament for non-university clubs – College Rovers (KZN), Brakpan (Falcons), Roodepoort (Golden Lions), Sishen (Griquas), GAP Despatch (defending champions), Bloemfontein Crusaders (Free State) and newcomers Centurion (Blue Bulls).
The penultimate round of the EP Grand Challenge sees log leaders Despatch and second-placed Spring Rose separated by just a single point ahead of their matches against lowly United Barbarians and St Marks respectively.
Unbeaten SWD champions Evergreens are away to second-placed Barbarians in the Premier League with just a month to go before the play-offs, while third-placed Wesbank host Boland Premier League champions Villagers Worcester, currently second, in a vital match in Malmesbury.
And down south, Durbell and Hamiltons, lying first and second in the WP Super League A, will continue their ding-dong battle for Community Cup qualification when they host Tygerberg and Belhar respectively as the season there enters the final straight.
This weekend’s Premier League club fixtures from around SA (as supplied to SARU by its provincial unions):
Cross-border Predator Super League, Friday/Saturday:
Cup (Final round):
Pool A – Brakpan vs Roodepoort. Bye: Tuks
Pool B – Boksburg vs NWU Pukke, Raiders vs Centurion
Pool C – Wits vs NWU Vaal, Rustenburg Impala vs Oostelikes Eagles
Pool D – UJ vs Pretoria Harlequins, Pirates vs Pretoria Police
Plate (Round 3):
Pool A – Randfontein vs Union, Naka Bulls vs Springs. Bye: Wanderers
Pool B – Diggers vs Kempton Wolves
Blue Bulls – Carlton League:
League & Cup final won by Tuks. See above for Predator fixtures involving Blue Bulls teams.
Blue Bulls Limpopo – Boet Fick Senior League, Saturday:
Louis Trichardt vs Pietersburg
Boland – Premier League, Saturday:
Wellington vs Black Leaves (postponed Round 4 match)
Vredenburg vs Ceres (postponed Round 11 match)
Wesbank vs Villagers Worcester (Round 14 match brought forward)
Border – Premier League:
Round-robin stages completed. Quarter-finals 23/24 August.
EP – Grand Challenge, Saturday (Round 15 of 16):
African Bombers vs Gardens
Park vs Crusaders
Harlequins vs Orlando Eagles
Despatch vs Utd Barbarians
NMMU vs Suburban
Spring Rose vs St Marks
SAPS vs Kruisfontein
Progress vs Brumbies
Free State – City League:
No matches – League & Cup final won by Shimlas.
Golden Lions – Pirates Grand Challenge:
League won by Roodepoort. See above for Predator fixtures involving Lions teams.
Griffons – 1st League:
No matches – date of final between Welkom Rovers and one of Welkom or Henneman TBC.
Griquas – Super League:
No matches – League won by Sishen.
KZN – Fidelity Security Moor Cup:
No matches – League won by College Rovers.
Leopards – Neser A League:
League & Cup final won by Potch Dorp. See above for Predator fixtures involving Leopards teams.
Mpumalanga – Buscor Super League:
No matches – Final between Ferro’s & Malelane 10 Aug @ Mbombela Stadium.
SWD – Premier League, Saturday (Round 18 of 22):
All Blacks vs Bridgton
Progress vs Uniondale
Barbarians vs Evergreens
Blanco vs Crusaders
Bonnievale Utd vs Silver Stars
Swellendam vs Groot-Brakrivier
Valke – Peregrine Super League:
League & Cup final won by Brakpan. See above for Predator fixtures involving Valke teams.
WP – Super League A, Saturday (Week 18 of 24):
Durb-Bell vs Tygerberg
Hamiltons vs Belhar
Victorians vs UCT
Helderberg vs Maties