The Eastern Cape Super 14 rugby competition is living up to the high expectations of being the premier club rugby tournament in the province. It is exciting and has fans on the edges of their seats. This weekend is the final round-robin matches still only two teams, Progress and Swallows, have secured semi-final spots. A total of five teams have a mathematical chance of securing the remaining two spots which makes this weekend’s fixtures so intriguing. African Bomber, EL Police, Ncerha Leopards, Harlequins and Kruisfontein are all fighting for their destiny.
Swallows came out on top in the biggest match of the round six when they defeated African Bombers 25-21. This blockbuster match was billed “the final before the final” and had the entire province in suspense. It lived up to expectations, judging by how close the score was, with both teams dishing out exhilarating rugby for the big crowd in attendance at the NU1 Stadium in Mdantsane. Swallows have made sure of top position in Group B on 26 points while Bombers are second on 20. Police won 28-0 against Trying Stars to keep their semi-final aspirations alive and are third on 16 points. Kruisfontein are still in the running for the knock-outs after beating Old Selbornians 38-35, which took their log points tally to 15.
Progress made sure of topping Group A with a convincing 50-19 drubbing of Young Leopards. They have amassed 28 points and have the most points in the combined log. Harlequins are back in business and have a fighting chance for the semis after annihilating Black Eagles 78-12. They occupy third position with 15 points. Park taught Breakers a rugby lesson with a thumping 73-3 victory.
It is all to play for this weekend as spots for the semi-finals are filling up. What is interesting is that both Swallows and Progress, who have qualified on top of their respective groups, enjoy a well-deserved break after playing six straight weeks. It is an advantage for both sides as they will be fresh and at home for the semi-finals in a fortnight’s time.
Meanwhile, African Bombers need two points to make sure of qualifying for the semis in their match against Old Selbornians. A point could be enough, but then points differential would come into play if Police get a bonus point win against Kruisfontein. However, it is expected that Bombers should win this match. Kruisfontein host Police with both teams still having an outside chance to qualify if the unlikely happens and Bombers slip up. The equation is simple for Ncerha Leopards, beat Black Eagles and you are through to the semi-finals. Harlequins must beat Breakers away from home in Komani and hope Black Eagles do them a huge favour against Ncerha Leopards. The other two matches are not of any significance as all four teams are playing for pride when Young Leopards host Park while Trying Stars have a date with Gardens.
For now, it looks ever more likely that there will be an all EP and an all Border semi-final. If Bombers come through their match against Old Boys unscathed, they will end second in Group B and meet the table-topping Progress in the semis. Ncerha Leopards are the favourites to end second in Group A which will pit them against Swallows in the semi-finals.