Log positions will be a key focus in the Women’s Premier Division on Saturday as the competition enters the fourth round and the need to close in on the pacesetters becomes vital with the halfway stage in clear sight.
Defending champions, DHL Western Province, and their arch-rivals, Border Ladies, have been in strong form this season, each racking up three wins in a row, which has allowed them to break away from the chasing teams on the table.
However, with the top two teams at the conclusion of the round-robin stages advancing to the final, and the competition reaching the halfway mark next week, the Boland Dames, EP Queens, Cell C Sharks Women and Blue Bulls Women will be wary of the significance of keeping the gap on the standings as small as possible.
This will be vital if any of these sides achieve their goal of changing the status quo in the Women’s Premier Division, which has seen the Border Ladies and DHL Western Province meet in every final since the 2016 season.
The Cell C Sharks Women and DHL Western Province will get the round underway in Durban at 10h30, and the action continues at 14h00 when the Border Ladies host the Boland Dames in East London. Both matches will be streamed live on Springboks.rugby.
The EP Queens and Blue Bulls Women will also meet at 14h00 in Port Elizabeth, with their match being broadcast live on SuperSport Rugby.
The KwaZulu-Natalians will have all the motivation they need to create an upset at Jonsson Kings Park 2 because apart from suffering defeats in their last three matches against the Capetonians, they will be determined to bounce back from their heavy 48-0 downfall against the Border Women last week.
The home side, however, will have to be sharp on defence as DHL Western Province have been in superb attacking form, scoring 23 tries and 139 points in their first three matches.
In East London, the Border Ladies will have their sights set on continuing their winning form when they take on the Boland Dames, especially after showing signs that they may be hitting their straps in a commanding first-half display last week.
Their 52-0 win in their last encounter against the Wellington outfit will also boost their confidence, but they will be wary of the fact that that the visitors will have their tails up after registering their first win of the season last week against the Blue Bulls Women.
Boland, however, will be under no illusions about the challenge ahead as Border boasts a better attack and defensive record in the opening three rounds.
The EP Queens, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from back-to-back defeats when they take the field at Police Park against the Blue Bulls Women, who, in turn, will be hunting their first victory of the season.
The Women from Pretoria will draw inspiration from the fact that they won the last outing between the sides in 2019, but the EP Queens won the two previous matches comfortably, and although they have only scored four points more than the hosts this season, they have been stronger on defence.
Women’s Premier Division Round 4 fixtures (Saturday, 29 May):
Cell C Sharks Women v DHL Western Province
Time: 10h30 (live stream on Springboks.rugby)
Venue: Jonsson Kings Park 2, Durban
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Local referees
EP Queens v Blue Bulls Women
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Ashleigh Murray-Pretorius
Assistant referees: Siyanda Pikoli and local referee
TMO: Christie du Preez
TV: SuperSport Rugby
Border Ladies v Boland Dames
Time: 14h00 (live stream on Springboks.rugby)
Venue: Police Park, East London
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Local referees