Sharks most likely to face Lions in semi-final

2008-09-29 00:00

There are still a variety of permutations, but the most likely scenario is that the Sharks will face the Lions in the Currie Cup semi-final at King’s Park on October 11.

A Sharks win, even without a bonus point, over the sixth-placed Griquas in Durban this Saturday will ensure that John Plumtree’s team end the season on top of the log. This will take them into a semi-final meeting with the team placed fourth on the log while also guaranteeing them a home final if they advance.

The second-placed Blue Bulls have also secured a home semi-final and they are certain to run all over the Falcons in their final round robin game on Friday night. The Free Staters are also likely to pick up a full hand of five points in their last game against Boland in Bloemfontein, and this should give them third spot and a semi-final clash against the Bulls in Pretoria.

The Lions, who are currently third, face fifth-placed Western Province at Newlands, and by Saturday night they could be either third, fourth or fifth (and out of the semi-finals) on the log.

If they can pick up a bonus point — even in defeat — or if they lose by fewer than 19 points, they will end fourth on the log with the prospect of a trip to Durban in the semi-finals. If they upset WP and win, they will end third for a semi-final meeting with the Bulls at Loftus. But if they are thumped by the Bok-laden Province line-up, and lose by 19 points without picking up a bonus point, they will miss the semi-finals — and the Sharks will be looking at a King’s Park semi-final against WP.

The Sharks, if they can stay focused, have every advantage, with depth in an improving squad, few injuries, home ground advantage when it counts most and an astute, level-headed coach.

Their match against Griquas kicks off at 3 pm, but the weekend’s attention will be on Newlands two hours later.

Currie Cup standings (played, won, drawn, lost, points scored, conceded, total)

Sharks 13 11 0 2 384 231 52

Bulls 13 10 0 3 460 215 49

Lions 13 8 0 5 424 287 41

Free State 13 8 0 5 339 225 37

Province 13 7 0 6 371 270 36

Griquas 13 3 1 9 303 398 19

Boland 13 2 1 10 213 478 13

Falcons 13 2 0 11 273 663 13

This weekend’s fixtures

Friday

At Pretoria: Bulls vs Falcons, 7.10 pm

Saturday

At Bloemfontein: Free State vs Boland, 3 pm

At Durban: Sharks vs Griquas, 3 pm

At Cape Town: WP vs Lions, 5 pm.

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