The pressure in the A Section of the Women’s Interprovincial competition will rise significantly this weekend as the scramble for places at the top end of the standings intensifies in what marks the penultimate pool round.
All three matches will play out on Saturday, with Boland hosting defending champions, Western Province, in a Western Cape derby in Worcester, while the Sharks take on 2018 finalists, Border, in Durban, and Eastern Province meet the Blue Bulls in Uitenhage.
While Boland will enter their match against Western Province with nothing to lose after going down in all of their matches up to now, Western Province will eye their fourth successive win to maintain their spot on the top of the log for a possible home final.
The Capetonians are the best attacking team in the competition with 97 points in three games, meaning their neighbours will have to step up their defence to earn their first win of the season.
The Sharks, meanwhile, have won two of their three matches up to now and trail log leaders, Western Province, by four points and the second-placed Eastern Province by one, meaning a win would keep them in the race for a possible final berth.
Border – who have hosted the last six finals – in turn, have their backs against the wall after only one victory so far, and they will have to win both their remaining matches to keep alive hopes of advancing to another final.
Border have had the upper hand against the KwaZulu-Natalians in the last few years, but the Sharks have scored only seven points more than Border this season, while they conceded two more, which could pave the way for a gripping clash.
Eastern Province, meanwhile, will be determined to bounce back from their narrow defeat two weeks ago and build on the form that pushed them into second place on the log when they meet the Blue Bulls in Uitenhage.
The women from the Eastern Cape have been superior on attack and defence this season, scoring over 50 points more than the opposition in their three matches, while they conceded over 50 points fewer as well.
But the Pretoria side will be inspired by their first win in the last round, and with pressure on the team to win both their remaining matches with bonus points to keep alive their slim semi-final hopes, they do not need much more motivation to come out firing.
The Women’s Interprovincial B Section teams will play their second-last pool round next week, with both Sections culminating in their respective finals on Saturday, 7 September.
SA Rugby Women’s Interprovincial A Section fixtures (Saturday, 3 August):
11h50: Boland v Western Province – Esselenpark, Worcester
14h00: Sharks v Border – Varsity College, Durban North
15h30: Eastern Province v Blue Bulls – Daniel Pienaar Technical High School, Uitenhage