Road to the play-offs: Mad dash

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 09:53
Large rhyno smith sharks water 800

IN THE CURRIE CUP SPOTLIGHT: The Free State Cheetahs have become the first team to book their place in the Currie Cup play-offs.

The race for the remaining three places will result in a mad dash over the next fortnight.

Five teams - Sharks, Blue Bulls, Griquas, Western Province and Golden Lions - are in the running.

It is possible, even likely, that last year's two finalists - the defending champion Golden Lions and Western Province - could fail to make the play-offs.

Not only are they currently outside the top four, but they also have to play teams above them.

The Cheetahs require just two points to secure the top spot on the standings, which brings with it home ground advantage in the semifinals and possible Final.

The Sharks and Blue Bulls - who have just one remaining league game each - along with Griquas, have their destinies in their own hands.

However, they both play away - the Bulls away to the Boland Cavaliers this coming Friday and the Sharks away to the Lions next week.

Those will, effectively, be two 'quarterfinal' encounters.

We look at each of the nine teams' prospects!

Free State Cheetahs
Current position: First
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Fourth
Remaining fixtures:
v Pumas, away
v Griquas, home

Sharks
Current position: Second
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Sixth
Remaining fixture:
v Golden Lions, away

Blue Bulls:
Current position: Third
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Sixth
Remaining fixture:
v Boland Cavaliers, away

Griquas
Current position: Fourth
Best possible finish: Second
Worst possible finish: Seventh
Remaining fixtures:
v Western Province, home
v Free State Cheetahs, away

Western Province
Current position: Fifth
Best possible finish: Second
Worst possible finish: Seventh
Remaining fixtures:
v Griquas, away
v Boland Cavaliers, home

Golden Lions
Current position: Sixth
Best possible finish: Second
Worst possible finish: Seventh
Remaining fixtures:
v Eastern Province Kings, away
v Sharks, home

Boland
Current position: Seventh
Best possible finish: Fifth
Worst possible finish: Ninth
Remaining fixtures:
v Blue Bulls, home
v Western Province, away

Pumas
Current position: Eighth
Best possible finish: Seventh
Worst possible finish: Ninth
Remaining fixtures:
v Free State Cheetahs, home
v Eastern Province Kings, away

Eastern Province
Current position: Ninth
Best possible finish: Seventh
Worst possible finish: Ninth
Remaining fixtures:
v Golden Lions, home
v Pumas, home

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 31 March 2017
Highlanders v Rebels 06h35 Dunedin
Sat, 01 April 2017
Blues v Force 04h15 Auckland
Chiefs v Bulls 06h35 Hamilton
Reds v Hurricanes 08h45 Suncorp Stadium
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h05 DHL Newlands
Zebre v Connacht 14h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Lions v Sharks 15h05 Ellis Park Stadium
Leinster v Wasps 15h15 Dublin
Munster v Toulouse 17h45 Limerick
Sun, 02 April 2017
Waratahs v Crusaders 06h05 Allianz Park
Saracens v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Allianz Park
Clermont Auvergne v Toulon 15h15 Clermont-Ferrand
Mon, 03 April 2017
Maties v UJ 14h30 Stellenbosch
UP-Tuks v Shimlas 17h00 Pretoria
Thu, 06 April 2017
Ulster v Leinster 22h00 Kingspan Stadium
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
Golden Lions 8 5 0 3 26
Sharks 8 5 0 3 25
Griquas 8 4 0 4 21
Boland 8 2 0 6 11
Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
EP Kings 8 0 0 8 1