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The outcome of the match in Round 8 of the 2016 Currie Cup at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, ought to be a foregone conclusion, given that the home side the Pumas have lost all six of their fixtures this season, while the visitors the Cheetahs have won all six of theirs. The Cheetahs are four points clear of their nearest rivals, the Sharks and the Bulls, with a game in hand. Victory against the Pumas would guarantee them top spot in the table, and with it the reward of home advantage through the play-offs. It would also give them the option of resting key players from their final regular season game against the Griquas next weekend, in preparation for the forthcoming semi-final.
The Pumas are second from the bottom of the table, four points ahead of the Kings, who they play in Port Elizabeth on the last day of the season, in a match that will determine the destination of the unwanted Wooden Spoon. The Free State Cheetahs were pushed all the way last week by the reigning Champions the Lions, before claiming a 37-29 victory and a fifth bonus point win in six attempts in 2016. When the two sides met in Nelspruit in 2015, the game ended in a thrilling 37-37 draw. The season before, the Pumas had completed a double over the Cheetahs.
Posted: 3rd October 2015
Although three of the play-off places in the 2015 Currie Cup are already taken, the fourth is up for grabs, and will be taken by one of the Cheetahs, the Sharks or the Pumas. The three teams are covered by just five points with two rounds of the regular season remaining. On Saturday, the Pumas host the Cheetahs in Nelspruit, in a fixture that is vital to both sides as they chase that remaining top four position.
Defeat for the Pumas, who trail the Cheetahs by four points, would see them eliminated, even before the Blue Bulls arrive next week for the final regular season game. Given that two of their three wins this season have been against the seventh place Kings, the Pumas wouldn't be seen as much of a threat for any potential semi-final opponent. That opponent almost certainly being the Lions, who have already posted 40+ points on them twice in 2015. The Free State are hardly likely to instill fear into the Lion's any more than the Pumas are. Two of their three victories have come against the Griquas, who are the only side that lies below the Kings in the table, and last week they were trounced at home by the table toppers to the tune of 31-73.
Tags: Currie Cup
, Mbombela Stadium
, Free State