Any slip-ups this weekend will be punished with elimination, when the Vodacom Cup quarterfinals take place in Nelspruit, Durban, Bloemfontein and Kimberley on Friday and Saturday.
Of the eight teams in the quarterfinals, six are back from 2013, while two – the SWD Eagles and Free State XV – did not make it to the play-offs last year. In fact, the Eagles are in the quarterfinals for only the second time since the Vodacom Cup started in 1998. They made the top eight in 2009 and also played in the semifinals in the inaugural season of this competition.
And for the Sharks XV, Pumas, Western Province, Blue Bulls, Griquas and Golden Lions, this will be the fourth consecutive season that they have reached the Vodacom Cup quarterfinals. The first match of the weekend is a replay of one of the 2013 quarterfinals.
The Pumas finished the pool phase of the competition as the only unbeaten team and deservedly topped the North Section log. They host Western Province, champions in 2012, in the second quarterfinal, at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday. Western Province also saw the red flag raised last weekend when they went down to the SWD Eagles in George.
It was only the Capetonians’ second defeat of the season and they will travel to Nelspruit knowing full well a similar performance will see them eliminated from the competition.
Pumas Team: 15. JW Bell 14. Trompie Pretorius 13. Wilmaure Louw 12. Hennie Skorbinski 11. Ruwellyn Isbell 10. JC Roos 9. Snake Nyoka 8. Renaldo Bothma 7. Uzair Cassiem 6. Corne Steenkamp (c) 5. Marius Coetzer 4. Giant Mtyanda 3. De-Jay 2. Jacques Momberg 1. Vincent Koch
Replacements: 16. Frankie Hearne 17. Sabelo Nhlapo 18. RW Kember 19. Jaco Bouwer 20. Reynier Van Rooyen 21. Coenie Van Wyk 22. Marcello Sampson
WP Team: 15. Devon Williams 14. JP Lewis 13. Johnny Kotze 12. Michael van der Spuy 11. Lihleli Xoli 10. Gary van Aswegen 9. Dylon Frylinck 8. Rayn Smid 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe 6. Rohan Kitshoff (captain) 5. Jan de Klerk 4. Tazz Fuzani 3. Entienne Swanepoel 2. Neil Rautenbach 1. Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16. Michael Willemse 17. Sti Sithole 18. Deacon Chowles 19. Jan Uys 20. Eital Bredenkamp 21. Jean Nel 22. Robert du Preez