With five rounds remaining before the Currie Cup Premier Division playoffs, the Toyota Cheetahs are two log points clear of the second-placed Airlink Pumas at the top of the standings. Six points separate the defending champions and the third-placed Cell C Sharks, who are very much in the hunt for a home semi-final.

There’s still enough time in the league phase for a few teams to make a late charge and clinch a place in the playoffs.

After losing to the Toyota Cheetahs last week, DHL Western Province will be going all out to secure a bonus-point win against the last-placed NovaVit Griffons in Welkom on Friday. The Capetonians are currently in fifth position on the log, but could finish the round in the top four if other results go their way.

The result of the later match on Friday will have a significant impact on the standings. The Airlink Pumas need to beat the Cell C Sharks to stay in touch with the high-flying Toyota Cheetahs at the top of the standings. A victory will also ensure that they keep the third-placed KwaZulu-Natalians at arm’s length.

The penultimate game of the round sees the Toyota Cheetahs tackling the Fidelity ADT Lions in Bloemfontein on Saturday. The hosts will head into this match with confidence after winning their last two matches. They also handed the men from Johannesburg a 52-15 defeat the last time the two sides met in the fifth round.

An upset win for the Fidelity ADT Lions would boost their playoff prospects, and possibly lead to more movement at the top of the log.

Windhoek Draught Griquas will be watching the match in Nelspruit closely. If the Airlink Pumas win, then the men from Kimberley will have the opportunity to push for a victory against the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday, and reduce the deficit between themselves and the Cell C Sharks on the log. The gap between third and fourth at this stage is five points.

Like the Cell C Sharks, the Vodacom Bulls were recently eliminated from the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and may opt to deploy some of their stars in the latter stages of the Currie Cup. The Pretoria-based union has struggled on the domestic scene in recent weeks, and another loss could damage their playoff prospects.

Currie Cup First Division / Mzansi Challenge

The Currie Cup First Division and Mzanzi Challenge tournament progresses to the eighth round this weekend, with three games scheduled for Saturday.

The SWD Eagles (first on the standings with 30 points) and the Valke (second with 21) will enjoy a bye. As a result, the chasing pack will have an opportunity to make up some ground. Only six points separate the East Randers with the chasing pack of the Boland Kavaliers (20), Eastern Province (19), San Clemente Rhinos (17) and Leopards (15), although some of the teams still have a game in hand.

This weekend, Eastern Province will meet the Boland Kavaliers in Despatch at 15h00, which will have a big influence on the Currie Cup First Division log as both teams are still in with a chance of reaching the final, when the top two SA sides will meet on Friday, 23 June.

At the same time the San Clemente Rhinos will face the Leopards in Strand, and an hour later, at 16h00, the match between the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias and the Simbas from Kenya will kick off in the Namibian capital. The encounter between the Goshawks and Border Bulldogs has been postponed.

Currie Cup Premier Division match information:

NovaVit Griffons v DHL Western Province
Venue: Down Touch Investments Stadium, Welkom
Date: Friday, 12 May
Time: 15h00
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
TV: SuperSport

Airlink Pumas v Cell C Sharks
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Date: Friday, 12 May
Time: 17h05
Referee: Christopher Allison
TV: SuperSport

Toyota Cheetahs v Fidelity ADT Lions
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Date: Saturday, 13 May
Time: 13h00
Referee: Marius Van der Westhuizen
TV: SuperSport

Windhoek Draught Griquas v Vodacom Bulls
Venue: Windhoek Draught Park, Kimberley
Date: Saturday, 13 May
Time: 15h00
Referee: Griffin Colby
TV: SuperSport