Who will progress to the Final? – Vodacom Cup Semi-finals Preview

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Two teams could be sailing into uncharted waters this weekend when the Vodacom Cup semi-finals take place in Nelspruit and Johannesburg.

The Steval Pumas and EP Kings have never played in a Vodacom Cup final before – in fact, for the team from Port Elizabeth, this will be their first-ever semi-final in this competition.

On Friday afternoon at 16h30, these two teams will contest the first Vodacom Cup semi-final of 2013 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. It will be the Steval Pumas’ third appearance at this stage of the competition and after their good performances in the pool stages – they topped the North Section – they will be hard pressed to qualify for their first-ever final.

 

The Steval Pumas, coached by Jimmy Stonehouse, lost only one of their pool matches this season. It happened in Nelspruit when the MTN Golden Lions, with their backs to the wall and fighting for Vodacom Cup survivial, beat the team from Mpumalanga by 23-14 on 19 April.

 

David Maidza’s EP Kings, third in the South Section after losing only two of their pool fixtures, qualified for their first semi-final after causing one of the biggest quarter-final upsets in Vodacom Cup history when they staged a late fight to beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 34-31 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

 

Not only did the team from the Eastern Cape qualify for their first semi-final, but they also knocked out the side that has played in the most semi-finals since the inception of the Vodacom Cup in 1998. It was the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ first quarter-final defeat in 13 years.

 

The second semi-final will feature the MTN Golden Lions at their Ellis Park home against the defending Vodacom Cup champions, DHL Western Province, at 14h15 on Saturday afternoon.

 

The team from Johannesburg, under Johan Ackermann’s coaching, has a very good strike rate in semi-finals – they’ve played in five thus far and won four. And each time they’ve progressed to the final, they took home the spoils.

 

The MTN Golden Lions, who sneaked into the playoffs as the fourth placed team in the North Section after losing three of their first four pool matches, will be a difficult opponent for the Capetonians on Saturday. They upset the Sharks XV, South Section winners, in Durban last weekend and are on a four-match winning streak.

 

DHL Western Province will play in their fourth semi-final. They’ve only won one and that was last year, when they also bagged the Vodacom Cup for the first time ever by upsetting GWK Griquas in a tense final in Kimberley.

 

John Dobson’s team from Cape Town lost only one of their seven pool matches to finish second in the South Section, but they also drew one, in the opening round against the Regent Boland Cavaliers.

 

Interestingly, the two semi-finals will be refereed by two brothers, Marius and Tiaan Jonker.

 

Semi-finals fixtures:

 

Friday, 10 May:

Steval Pumas v EP Kings

Kick-off: 16h30

Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Referee: Tiaan Jonker

Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Stephan Geldenhuys

TMO: Johan Greeff

 

Saturday, 11 May:

MTN Golden Lions v DHL Western Province

Kick-off: 14h15

Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Marius Jonker

Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Sieg van Staden

TMO: Johan Greeff

 

Vodacom Cup Semi-final results:

1998

GWK Griquas bt Sharks XV (Wildebeest) 47-28, Kimberley

MTN Golden Lions bt SWD Eagles 31-19, Johannesburg

 

1999

MTN Golden Lions bt Sharks XV (Wildebeest) 36-3, Johannesburg

GWK Griquas bt Regent Boland Cavaliers 24-17, Wellington

 

2000

Toyota Free State XV bt Valke 42-22, Bloemfontein

GWK Griquas bt DHL WP 41-27, Kimberley

 

2001

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Toyota Free State XV 39-38, Pretoria

Regent Boland Cavaliers bt GWK Griquas 47-31, Wellington

 

2002

MTN Golden Lions bt Valke 36-17, Johannesburg

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Regent Boland Cavaliers 47-45, Wellington

 

2003

MTN Golden Lions bt Toyota Free State XV 20-16, Bloemfontein

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Leopards XV 47-19, Pretoria

 

2004

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Toyota Free State XV 23-20, Bloemfontein

MTN Golden Lions bt Valke 47-17, Johannesburg

 

2005

Leopards XV bt Vodacom Blue Bulls 17-11, Pretoria

GWK Griquas bt Regent Boland Cavaliers 16-13, Kimberley

 

2006 – No semi-finals

 

2007

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Leopards XV 32-25, Pretoria

GWK Griquas bt Steval Pumas 46-26, Kimberley

 

2008

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt GWK Griquas 40-20, Kimberley

Toyota Free State XV bt DHL WP 27-22, Cape Town

 

2009

GWK Griquas bt Sharks XV 36-25, Durban

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Leopards XV 45-34, Pretoria

 

2010

Toyota Free State XV bt Regent Boland Cavaliers 22-14, Wellington

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt Sharks XV 33-3, Pretoria

2011

ICBC Pampas XV bt Sharks XV 41-26, Potchefstroom

Vodacom Blue Bulls bt GWK Griquas 47-34, Kimberley

 

2012

DHL WP bt Steval Pumas 33-20, Cape Town

GWK Griquas bt Vodacom Blue Bulls 30-17, Kimberley

 

Most semi-finals (including 2013):

11: Vodacom Blue Bulls

10: GWK Griquas

6: Toyota Free State XV, MTN Golden Lions

5: Sharks XV (Wildebeest), Regent Boland Cavaliers

4: Leopards XV, DHL WP

3: Steval Pumas, Valke

1: SWD Eagles, ICBC Pampas XV, EP Kings

 

Top points’ scorers – 2013:

 

PLAYER TEAM T C P D PTS
Fred Zeilinga Sharks XV 3 29 27 0 154
André Pretorius Leopards XV 2 28 9 0 93
Carl Bezuidenhout Steval Pumas 3 26 8 0 91
Tony Jantjies Vodacom Blue Bulls 2 18 11 0 79
Willie du Plessis Vodacom Blue Bulls 2 30 0 0 70
Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias ICBC Pampas XV 2 18 7 0 67
Karlo Aspeling Border Bulldogs 0 6 18 0 66
Anthony Volmink MTN Golden Lions 11 1 0 0 57
Marnitz Boshoff MTN Golden Lions 0 11 9 2 55
Scott van Breda Eastern Province Kings 2 7 10 0 54
Rosko Specman Steval Pumas 10 0 0 0 50
Tewis de Bruyn Toyota Free State XV 2 5 10 0 50
Jeff Taljard South Western Districts 1 9 9 0 50

 

Vodacom Cup Previous Winners:

1998: GWK Griquas

1999: MTN Golden Lions

2000: Toyota Free State Cheetahs

2001: Vodacom Blue Bulls

2002: MTN Golden Lions

2003: MTN Golden Lions

2004: MTN Golden Lions

2005: GWK Griquas

2006: Valke

2007: GWK Griquas

2008: Vodacom Blue Bulls

2009: GWK Griquas

2010: Vodacom Blue Bulls

2011: Pampas XV

2012: DHL Western Province

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