Currie Cup playoff race intensifies

Golden Lions, 2015 Currie Cup champions (Gallo Images)
Golden Lions, 2015 Currie Cup champions (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - There are just three rounds of Currie Cup fixtures remaining in 2016, and one or two of the 'big' unions are in for disappointment. 

The new format means that sides only face each other once, which has left the likes of Western Province and even the Golden Lions scrambling. 

Both of those unions are currently outside of the semi-final places, but it is not quite time to panic just yet. 

The Cheetahs, following their 38-30 win over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, top the standings as the only undefeated side left in the competition. 

They host the Lions this weekend before traveling to the Pumas and then hosting Griquas on the final weekend - a run-in that surely suggests they have already done enough to secure a semi-final. 

The Sharks and the Blue Bulls are both four points behind the Cheetahs in second and third respectively, but both have played six matches and have just two left in regular season. 

The Sharks host the Kings and then travel to the Golden Lions on the final weekend, but they are far from assured a semi-final.  

The Blue Bulls, meanwhile, must host Griquas this weekend before a trip to the Boland Cavaliers next weekend.

Griquas are really the side making things interesting. 

They have won four of their five matches, including a win over the Golden Lions on August 20. 

They must travel to the Blue Bulls, host Western Province and travel to the Cheetahs in their last three matches - all fixtures that are set to have a major say in the playoff race. 

Province simply must win their last three matches to stand a chance. 

Currently sixth in the standings, John Dobson's men host the Pumas this weekend, then travel to Griquas before closing out against the Cavaliers at home. 

That Griquas match next weekend stands out as the potential decider for them. 

The Golden Lions, meanwhile, are four points ahead of Province in 5th. 

They travel to the Cheetahs and the EP Kings before hosting the Sharks in what could be a make or break fixture on the final weekend. 

It is still very much a case of 'all to play for' ... but sides cannot afford to slip up at this stage of the season. 

Currie Cup standings and run-in:

1. Cheetahs (P 5, Pts 24) - Golden Lions (h), Pumas (a), Griquas (h)

2. Sharks (P 6, Pts 20) - EP Kings (h), Golden Lions (a)

3. Blue Bulls (P 6, Pts 20) - Griquas (h), Boland Cavaliers (a)

4. Griquas (P 5, Pts 19) - Blue Bulls (a), Western Province (h), Cheetahs (a)

5. Golden Lions (P 5, Pts 17) - Cheetahs (a), EP Kings (a), Sharks (h)

6. Western Province (P 5, Pts 13) - Pumas (h), Griquas (a), Boland Cavaliers (h)

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