Big battles expected as Vodacom Cup pool stages reach halfway stage – Round 5 Preview

Apr 9 • General News, Vodacom Cup • 1821 Views • Comments Off on Big battles expected as Vodacom Cup pool stages reach halfway stage – Round 5 Preview

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The intensity of the Vodacom Cup is expected to rise significantly this weekend as the pool stages reach the halfway stage and the reality sets in for the teams that only four rounds remain for them to secure their places in the final stages.

The main match-up in the North Section will be in Nelspruit on Saturday where log-leaders the Xerox Golden Lions go up against the Steval Pumas in a table-topping clash, while in the South Section GWK Griquas will look to close in on DHL Western Province on the log table.

The unbeaten DHL Western Province will travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the EP Kings on Saturday, which could prove to be a tight encounter, but GWK Griquas, who have also won both of their matches, will be hoping to make the most of their clash against the Border Bulldogs, who have yet to secure a log point this season, in Kimberley.

In the other South Section clashes, the Boland Cavaliers host the SWD Eagles in Wellington on Friday and the Cell C Sharks XV go up against the Toyota Free State XV in Kokstad on Saturday in what could be a hard-fought battle.

In the North Section, the Down Touch Griffons host the Hino Valke in Welkom, and the FNB Welwitschias meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Windhoek on Friday, where the hosts will look to register their first victory.

This week we feature two young players who have shown immense talent in their rugby careers, EP Kings fullback Sylvian Mahuza and DHL Western Province flank Sikhumbuszo Notshe. Both players are expected to play key roles when their teams cross paths in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Rising Star #9 – Sylvian Mahuza (EP Kings)

Mahuza took the first big leap in his rugby career in 2009 when he represented SWD at the Coca-Cola Under-16 Grant Khomo Week. He went on to represent the province in the Coca-Cola Under-18 Craven Week the following two seasons before moving to the Leopards where he was a member of their Under-19 team in the Absa Junior Championship. The player’s career received another big boost in 2013 when the was named in the Junior Springbok squad for the Junior World Championship in France after which he participated in the Absa Under-21 competition.

He made his debut in the Vodacom Cup last season, and later was selected for the Absa Currie Cup qualifiers, where he made his mark by finishing the qualifiers as joint top try-scorer with 10 tries. The player continued this impressive form in the Absa Currie Cup First Division where he scored four tries – only one less than the competition’s top try-scorer.

At the young age of 21 and a bright career ahead of him at the EP Kings, the former Outeniqua High pupil, who is 178cm tall and weighs 80kg, will be looking to make the most of the opportunity to take another step forward in his career, especially with the EP Kings playing in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division this season.

Rising Star #10 – Sikhumbuszo Notshe (DHL Western Province)

DHL Western Province flank Sikhumbuso Notshe may be playing in his third Vodacom Cup this season, but the talented 21-year old is fast establishing himself as a key player at the Cape-based union. After only four rounds in this year’s competition the former Wynberg Boys High pupil has scored an impressive five tries to top the try-scorer’s list and has proven himself as a reliable starter.

Notshe, who was born in King Williams Town, started showing his talent at a very young age, which earned him a place in the Coca-Cola Under-13 Craven Week, Under-16 Grant Khomo Week and Under-18 Craven Week squads before being selected for SARU’s Under-18 High Performance group in 2010. His next step was playing for the SA Schools squad in 2011. Only two years later he was named in the Cape side’s Vodacom Cup and Under-21 squads. He made his big break in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition last season off the bench against the Reds, Waratahs and Lions. He built on this with strong performances during the Absa Currie Cup last season and took to the field as a replacement in the final where the team was crowned champions. With Notshe having proven that he could deliver solid performances consistently, he is fast building a reputation as one of the union’s rising stars.

Round 5 fixtures:

Friday, 10 April

Down Touch Griffons vs Hino Valke
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Jaco Kotze

Boland Cavaliers vs SWD Eagles
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: Boland Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Quinton Immelman

FNB Welwitschias vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Kick-off: 19h00
Venue: Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek
Referee: Oregopotse Rametsi

Saturday, 11 April

Steval Pumas vs Xerox Golden Lions
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Jaco Pretorius

GWK Griquas vs Border Bulldogs
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

Cell C Sharks XV vs Toyota Free State XV
Kick-off: 15h30
Venue: Kokstad Rugby Club
Referee: Ben Crouse

EP Kings vs DHL Western Province
Kick-off: 19h00
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys

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