The Boland Cavaliers and Valke will kick off the action - in the DirectAxis Financial Services sponsored competition - at Esselen Park in Worcester on a jam-packed Saturday, which will also feature matches between the Jaguares XV and SWD Eagles in Potchefstroom, the Border Bulldogs and Eastern Province in Mthatha, and the Down Touch Griffons and Leopards in Welkom.
The clash in Worcester between the Valke and Boland Cavaliers – who will enter the round in second and third place on the log respectively – is expected to be tense as both teams target a victory to remain in the race for a possible home semi-final.
The Valke will enter the match as favourites with two victories and two draws in their four matches up to now, which has left them unbeaten, while the hosts have won two and lost two. They have, however, been closely matched on attack with 16 tries a piece, but the Valke’s defence has been superior.
Boland will draw inspiration from the fact that they won their last two home games against the Gauteng outfit, but the Valke have won two of their last three games between the sides, which will boost their confidence.
The SWD Eagles will have their work cut out at the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds in Potchefstroom as they look to topple log leaders, the Jaguares XV, whose superb form so far has seen them cruise to four bonus point victories in a row.
The George side, however, will take comfort from the fact they have suffered only one defeat this season, but they will be wary of the fact that they need to do enough to push through for a win to avoid slipping further behind the pace setters with an eye on the semi-final stages.
The SWD Eagles’ defence, in particular, has to be rock solid as the Argentineans have scored more than double the number of their tries in the opening four rounds.
The Down Touch Griffons will be hunting their fourth victory in a row against the Leopards when sides cross paths in Welkom in what is expected to be a gripping clash.
The hosts are currently in fourth place on the standings and they will be determined to remain in the top four, while the Leopards trail by only two points. A defeat for the men from Potchefstroom, however, could place them under immense pressure in the last two pool games to sneak into a semi-final position, which will fuel their determination going into the clash.
The bottom-of-the-log clash in Mthatha between the Border Bulldogs and EP Elephants could also be hard-fought as both teams attempt to make up for their slow starts to the season.
The sides have been closely matched on attack with the men from the Port Elizabeth scoring only two tries more than their East London neighbours, but the EP Kings have been more effective on defence. Border, however, have won the last two outings between the sides, which could charge them up.
Currie Cup First Division Round 5 Fixtures:
Saturday, 3 August
Boland Cavaliers v Valke
Venue: Esselen Park, Worcester
Referee: Ben Crouse
Jaguares XV v SWD Eagles
Venue: Fanie du Toit, Potchefstroom
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Border Bulldogs v Eastern Province
Venue: Mthatha Stadium, Mthatha
Referee: Archie Sehlako
Down Touch Griffons v Leopards
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen