The SuperSport Rugby Challenge will again reach communities far and wide when this enthralling competition resumes on Friday, with yet another action-packed Rugby Festival on Sunday promising to end a weekend of tries and more tries.
The ninth round could also see a significant shift in the Central Section, where both Tafel Lager Griquas and the Cell C Sharks XV will be hoping to gain ground on log leaders, Toyota Free State XV, who have a bye this weekend.
The two teams meet at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane on Sunday, an unlikely venue for this match, where the fourth Rugby Festival will bring first-class rugby action to the Eastern Cape faithful.
Border is hosting EP Elephants in the other match on Sunday, with the visitors desperate for a first win in the competition. The Bulldogs still have a sniff of a play-off spot and they will be very dangerous, especially in front of the boisterous home crowd.
The only other side winless in 2018, the Leopards, face an equally stiff task. They travel to Welkom on Saturday to meet the Down Touch Griffons, who totally outplayed the North West side in their first encounter. The Leopards are slowly but surely becoming more organized and were leading at halftime in their last two games, only to fall away in the last quarter.
The Down Touch Griffons proved to be a very fit side with a number of strong second half performances, so this could very well be a match of two halves.
In the other match on Saturday, the iCOLLEGE Pumas should have too much gas in the tank for the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias, with the home side opting for Secunda as venue, adding yet another community to the ever-growing footprint of the competition.
Early action on Friday will see the Xerox Golden Lions XV taking on the Hino Valke. Innocent Radebe, formerly of the Cell C Sharks, has returned to his roots and will start for the home side at Emirates Airline Park, while Springbok wing Courtnall Skosan will also make a comeback after a long injury lay-off, should het get game time from the bench.
The South Section match between SWD Eagles and Boland Cavaliers at Outeniqua Park in George will also be crucial for both teams. The home side will want a strong start with their home crowd urging them on, but the Cavaliers will be buoyant by their show against DHL Western Province last weekend.
DHL Western Province (South), Vodacom Blue Bulls (North) and Toyota Free State XV (Central) have byes.
Week 9 fixtures are:
Friday 15 June:
Xerox Lions v Hino Valke
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
SWD Eagles v Boland Cavaliers
Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Referee: Paul Mente
Saturday 16 June:
iCOLLEGE Pumas v Windhoek Draught Welwitschias
Venue: Sasol Secunda Rugby Club, Secunda
Referee: Jaco Pretorius
Down Touch Griffons v Leopards
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Ricus van der Hoven
Sunday 17 June, Rugby Festival at Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane:
Black Eagles v Ntlaza Lions (Gold Cup qualifier)
Referee: Rodney Bonaparte
Cell C Sharks v Tafel Lager Griquas
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Border Bulldogs v EP Elephants
Referee: Archie Sehlako