Province, Sharks triumph to set up Currie Cup showdown

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Western Province and the Sharks cruised to bonus-point victories Saturday and set up a top-of-the-table South African Currie Cup clash next weekend.

Leaders and defending champions Province scored six tries en route to a 38-12 victory over visiting Griquas at Newlands stadium in Cape Town.

Sharks scored four as they overcame Golden Lions 37-21 in rain-lashed Indian Ocean city Durban after leading by 30 points early in the second half.

The individual try-scoring honours went to Province winger Sergeal Petersen of Province and Sharks number eight Dan du Preez, who got two each.

Robert du Preez, an older brother of Dan and a son of Sharks coach Robert senior, was the leading points scorer with 17 from four conversions and three penalties.

Province needed just 102 seconds to score through Josh Stander and were 33-7 ahead by half-time against opponents who struggled in the scrums and lineouts.

An air of inevitability hung over the second half with Griquas first to score through AJ Coertzen before JJ Engelbrecht of Province claimed the only other try of the half.

After falling 7-3 behind by allowing Sylvian Mahuza score a soft try, the clinical Sharks established a 30-7 advantage by the break.

Dan du Preez increased the lead before a mini Lions revival delivered scores from James Venter and Wandisile Simelane, but a bonus-point fourth try eluded the visitors.

Province and Sharks have 20 points each with two regular-season rounds remaining and the Cape Town side occupy first place on points difference.

Whoever wins the clash of the leaders at Newlands will almost certainly top the final standings, which brings several benefits.

The leaders host a semi-final against the fourth-place side while the runners-up have home advantage over the team that finishes third.

Province beat Sharks in the 2017 final in Durban and the odds are on the same sides making the title decider for a second successive season.

Blue Bulls, who had a sixth-round bye, lie third with 17 points and the Lions fourth a point behind.

Pumas, based in northeastern city Nelspruit, trounced the Free State Cheetahs 42-14 in Bloemfontein and could squeeze into the last four by beating the Lions in the final round.

Griquas cannot make the semi-finals while the bottom-placed Cheetahs, who field a reserve team because of simultaneous PRO14 commitments, face a promotion/relegation play-off.