The battle for the remaining final berth in the A Section of the SA Rugby Women’s Interprovincial Competition is set to come down to the wire on Saturday as four teams eye a place in the grand finale of the competition against Western Province on 7 September.
Eastern Province (12 points), Border (11), the Sharks (10) and the Blue Bulls (8), all have a mathematical chance of booking their place in the final in Cape Town against Western Province, who cemented the top spot on the log after winning all four of their pool games so far.
Western Province will meet Eastern Province in a top-of-the-table clash in Cape Town, while 2018 finalists Border will host the winless Boland in East London, and the Blue Bulls take on the Sharks in Pretoria.
The pressure will be squarely on Eastern Province going into their clash against the Capetonians, as the defending champions have already earned their place in the final, and will target this match to gain momentum as they attempt to secure their third consecutive title. They enter the match in second position on the table, but could see their final aspirations dashed if they suffer a defeat. This will no doubt fuel their determination to deliver one of their best performances this season. The fact that they suffered heavy defeats at the hands of their Cape counterparts in the last two seasons will also inspire them to create an upset.
Border, meanwhile, will target a bonus-point victory against Boland, who have had a disappointing season and are winless this year. Border will take comfort from the fact that defeat for their Eastern Cape neighbours could open the door for them to contest the final.
Border and Western Province have battled it out in the final in the last three seasons, with the East London side hosting the last six finals, and given their impressive track record in the competition, they will have all the motivation they need to book their place in the top two once again.
Boland, in turn will have nothing lose in the match, which Border will be wary of, but the visitors will have to produce a top-class performance on attack and defence to surprise the hosts.
The Blue Bulls and Sharks will enter their match knowing if they have any hope of advancing to the final or not, as they meet in the last match of the round. A victory for the Sharks could see them through to the top two if Eastern Province and Border suffer defeats, while the Blue Bulls will need to win a bonus point to advance to the top two depending on the results in the other matches.
The B Section teams will meet in their final pool round next weekend, with both finalists set to be confirmed then.
SA Rugby Women’s Interprovincial A Section fixtures (Saturday, 24 August):
12h30: Western Province v Eastern Province - Tygerberg RC Florida Park, Cape Town
14h00: Border v Boland – Police Rugby Club, East London
15h30: Blue Bulls v Sharks – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria