Three teams, African Bombers, Swallows and Progress continued to be ruthless and pulverise their opposition in the Eastern Cape Super 14 rugby competition. Ironically, all three are unbeaten and all three have won two matches on the road but only played once at home. They showed their dominance again last weekend, with all three winning away from home. A fourth team, Kruisfontein, is also unbeaten, but enjoyed a well-deserved break over the weekend after a very good start to the competition.
So, who are the favourites? Both groups are tight with one or two points difference between the top three teams in each group. Many rugby followers have put their money on a Bombers/ Swallows final. However, both teams are in Group B, the group of death. The teams must still play each other in a crucial match on February 22 at the NU1 stadium in Mdantsane. Kruisfontein might have other ideas though. Both teams are earmarked to play Kruisfontein, starting this weekend with African Bombers hosting the red-hot Kruisfontein outfit at Zwide Stadium. Swallows must travel to Kruisfontein on February 15, another highly contested tie to determine the semi-finalist. EL Police have given themselves a lifeline with their win over Old Selbornians and remain in the title race and any slip-up by the top three will give them a gap on six points. But it is advantage to Bombers in the group on 14 points, followed closely by Swallows on 12 and Kruisfontein on 8.
In Group A, Progress are the runaway leaders and have swept all before them. They have won three out of three with 12 points in the bag. What is more impressive, the EP champs have won two matches away from their Central Field house of pain. They have beaten their closest rival, Ncerha Leopards, convincingly to consolidate their pole position. Harlequins have made a huge statement in the last two weekends. After suffering an opening loss to log leaders Progress, Harlequins have muscled their way with back-to-back bonus points wins over Young Leopards and Park and are sitting pretty in second place on 10 points. Ncerha Leopards are third on 9.
In last weekend’s results, Progress won 24-7 away to Ncerha Leopards to cement their top spot. Harlequins are back on track with another five-pointer in their outstanding 35-17 demolition of Park. Young Leopard got their first win under the belt with an impressive 33-8 win over Black Eagles away from home. Gardens remain winless after their 21-18 loss to Swallows. Gardens can take heart from their second-half performance after clawing their way back into the match with 13 men after two players received their marching orders. Discipline is key for a team that is in a rebuilding phase. EL Police won the East London derby 22-16 over neighbours Old Boys. As expected, Trying Stars put up a fight till the bitter end in their 25-22 loss to a Bombers side that has taken no prisoners.
This weekend, it is do or die when African Bombers host Kruisfontein in the battle of the unbeaten sides. Swallows welcome Trying Stars at the NU1 Stadium in Mdantsane. Old Selbornians host Gardens which should be an interesting tussle between two sides that have yet to set the Super 14 on fire. Progress should have a stroll in the park and are expected to take all five points against a Black Eagles side that has battled to compete against the best. Park welcome Ncerha Leopard at Londt Park. Breakers travel to Ducats for a date with Young Leopards, with both teams recording one victory thus far. Harlequins and EL Police have byes.