Groundhog Day for First Division semifinalists

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The Absa Currie Cup First Division semifinals on Friday will have a Groundhog Day feel for the participating teams as both matches will mark repeats of the final pool games played last week.

The Down Touch Griffons meet the SWD Eagles in Welkom in the first semifinal on Friday, which will be followed by the clash between the Leopards and Valke in Potchefstroom.

The clash in Welkom is expected to be hard-fought as the Down Touch Griffons will be determined to avoid their third defeat of the season against the SWD Eagles and their third defeat in a row. The SWD Eagles registered home and away victories against the Down Touch Griffons in the round-robin stages, but they have had a see-saw season and will look to build winning momentum with their sights set on a final berth. The teams are closely matched on attack with the Griffons having scored only three more tries than SWD, but the hosts have conceded more tries, which the visitors will want to take advantage of. With SWD Eagles fullback Elric van Vuuren boasting a 20-point lead on the list of top point-scorers in the competition, his team-mates will rely heavily on his accurate goal-kicking to secure any additional points.

The Down Touch Griffons made seven changes to the team that went down 42-27 last week, with centres Japie Nel and Tambuki Mboto and wing Norman Nelson back in the starting XV, while Taro Maarman moves to fullback. Up-front props Heinrich Roelfse and Gerhard Baard join forces with hooker Elandré Huggett in a new-look front row. The SWD Eagles, meanwhile, made only one change to their bench for the clash with talented wing Alshaun Bock replacing Brian Skosana.

The Leopards will be hunting their third victory in a row and a home final when they line up against the Valke in Potchefstroom. In the first match-up between the sides this season the Leopards registered a 45-22 victory and they followed this up with a 50-29 victory last weekend. While they will be determined to deliver another strong performance against their Kempton Park counterparts especially with their first home final since 2008 in sight, the Valke will be desperate to avenge their defeats. The fact that the Valke have toppled two of the three other semifinalists this season is expected to inspire them to repeat this feat against the log-leaders.

The Leopards have made a few changes to their team which sees the return of attacking threats, wing Luther Obi, centre Hoffman Maritz and No8 Morné Hanekom in the starting line-up. Their presence is expected to add a strong attacking dimension to their play. The Valke on the other hand named an identical match 22 to the side that took to the field last week.

Absa Currie Cup First Division fixtures:

Down Touch Griffons vs SWD Eagles

Venue: North West Stadium, Welkom
Date: Friday, 3 October
Time: 13h30
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant Referees: Lourens van der Merwe and Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
TV: SS1

Leopards vs Valke

Venue: Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Date: Friday, 3 October
Time: 16h00
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Stephan Geldenhuys and Jaco Kotze
TMO: Johan Greeff
TV: SS1

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