The Xerox Lions kept their Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semi-final aspirations alive following their thrilling 22-20 victory over The Sharks at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.
The Johannesburg side, who has now won five consecutive matches at home, are currently in fifth position on the Premier Division log with 35 points. They are two points behind the fourth-placed Vodacom Free State Cheetahs (37), and three after the Vodacom Blue Bulls (38) who are third position.
Franco van der Merwe scored a try in the final minute of play for the Xerox Lions to level the game at 20-20 before former SA Under-20 flyhalf Elton Jantjies added the match-winning conversion to steer his side to their seventh victory of the season.
The Vodacom Free State Cheetahs and the Vodacom Blue Bulls stepped closer to cement their places in next month’s playoffs after they recorded victories against the Barloworld Toyota Pumas and the Platinum Leopards respectively.
In Bloemfontein the hosts outclassed their Witbank opponents before running in 59-24 winners while the defending champions achieved their goal of accumulating maximum points from their clash against the Platinum Leopards. The Pretoria side secured a 39-26 victory in Potchefstroom.
The result for the Vodacom Blue Bulls keeps them five points behind Vodacom Western Province who are in second position on the log. The Vodacom Free State Cheetahs, who hosts the Xerox Lions in Bloemfontein on Saturday (17h05) are six points behind Province.
Meanwhile The Sharks who achieved a bonus point for losing within seven points of the Xerox Lions are now in danger of losing their place at the top of the Absa Currie Cup log. The log-leaders are on 47 points and still have two league games left in the competition. They host the Platinum Leopards in Durban on Friday before facing Vodacom WP in what could turn out to be a top of the table clash for pole position in the final game of the league season on October 9.
The Durban side will have to defeat the Platinum Leopards and Province to ensure that they remain in first position at the end of the competition. They will be keeping a close eye on proceedings in Pretoria on Saturday when Vodacom WP takes on the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The defending champions could mathematically still end the season in pole position, and victory for Frans Ludeke’s side this Saturday will strengthen their chances of finishing second and relegating Province to third position on the log.
As for the Xerox Lions who are in fifth position on the log, they will have the chance of moving back in to the top four when they travel to Bloemfontein for their clash against the Vodacom Free State Cheetahs this Saturday. The Johannesburg side must win their remaining two games in the 2010 season if they are to remain contenders for a place in next month’s semi-final playoffs.
Vodacom Western Province maintained the pressure on the log-leading The Sharks on Friday night following their 48-32 victory over the GWK Griquas at Newlands in Cape Town.
GWK Griquas winger Bjorn Basson took another step closer to the Absa Currie Cup try-scoring record of 19 held by former Western Province winger Carel du Plessis (1989) and Platinum Leopards’ Colin Lloyd (2006).
Basson is the leading try-scorer in the 2010 Absa Currie Cup with 17 tries and is eight tries clear of the second-placed The Sharks winger Lwazi Mvovo.
The GWK Griquas achieved a bonus point for scoring five tries with Basson running in a hat-trick at Newlands. Burger Schoeman and Jean Stemmet added the visitors other tries. Flyhalf Naas Olivier kicked one conversion and a penalty while Rudi Vogt slotted one conversion.
Vodacom WP winger JJ Engelbrecht added a hat-trick of tries for the hosts who managed to cross the try line seven times. Springbok centre Jean de Villiers along with his Province teammates – hooker Deon Fourie, No 8 Duane Vermeulen and reserve lock Adriaan Fondse were the other try-scorers.
Willem de Waal regained his position as the leading points’ scorer in the 2010 Absa Currie Cup after he kicked four conversions and a penalty during his side’s victory in Cape Town. Substitute flyhalf Gary van Aswegen added one conversion.
The Vodacom WP pivot is currently on 161 points and is four points clear of The Sharks’ Patrick Lambie. Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls) is in third place with 153.
In the Absa Under-21 Championship the Vodacom Blue Bulls (45) ended the weekend in pole position on the Group A log following their thrilling 41-36 victory over the Platinum Leopards in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
The Sharks joined Vodacom Western Province in joint second position on the log with 41 points after they defeated the Xerox Lions U21s 26-20 in Johannesburg while the Free State Cheetahs maintained their status in fourth place following their 109-0 victory over the Boland.
In the Absa Under-19 Championship the Vodacom Blue Bulls (46) moved into pole position in the Group A log following their 40-31 win over the Platinum Leopards on Saturday. Vodacom Western Province who had a bye weekend are in second place with 44 points. The Sharks also recorded a comprehensive 39-15 win against their Xerox U19 opponents at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg.