Vodacom Cup

Vodacom CupThe Top 3 teams in the North Section of the Vodacom Cup have all but secured their playoff spots, but the South Section is still wide open with only 2 rounds of pool action remaining.

2 Of the Xerox Golden Lions, Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls will host Quarter-Finals this year, with the 2 teams from Gauteng in the inside lane as they have 1 game in hand.

The Steval Pumas finished their pool obligations with a solid 28 / 22 win over the Hino Valke in Nelspruit on Friday evening and the Xerox Golden Lions trounced the Leopards XV by 63 / 10 in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

1 Of the Down Touch Griffons, who recorded a good 40 / 28 win over the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls in Welkom on Saturday, Leopards XV and Hino Valke will probably take the remaining place in the playoffs in their section, but mathematically the FNB Welwitschias and Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls can also still sneak in.

DHL Western Province, who beat GWK Griquas by 21 / 14 in a replay of the 2012 final in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon, are now the only unbeaten team left in the South Section.

The Toyota Free State XV and SWD Eagles both recorded good away victories this weekend, over the Border Bulldogs in East London (14 / 10) and the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth (31 / 10) respectively.

The teams from Bloemfontein and George are looking like the likely candidates to progress to the Quarter-Finals, although the Cell C Sharks’ big win over the Boland Cavaliers in Empangeni (52 / 12) means they can’t be written off yet.

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Vodacom CupAll eyes will be on Diamantveld High School in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon when the only 2 unbeaten teams left in the South Section of the Vodacom Cup clash in a replay of the 2012 final.

GWK Griquas, the defending champions, host DHL Western Province in a highly-anticipated clash at Diamantveld.

Both these sides are unbeaten after 4 matches and their performances have been very similar thus far, with a points’ difference of 69 for the visitors from Cape Town and 70 for the home team. DHL Western Province top the South Section log on 19 points though, with GWK Griquas 2nd on 18.

The high-flying SWD Eagles will be looking for their 1st away win of the season after already beating the Cell C Sharks XV and Toyota Free State XV in George, when they travel up the N2 to take on the EP Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, the Cell C Sharks XV, at home in Empangeni to the Boland Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon, will be looking to reverse a 3-match losing streak when they travel north up the coast.

In the North Section, the Xerox Golden Lions will retake the lead at the top of the standings if they can beat the Leopards XV at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

Current log leaders, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, have a BYE and can slip back to 3rd position if the Steval Pumas record a convincing victory over the Hino Valke at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening.

This week, we’re looking at former SA Under 20 speedster Sergeal Petersen, who is now with the Toyota Free State XV, after making his mark for the EP Kings. We also look at Xerox Golden Lions loose forward Ruaan Lerm.

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Vodacom CupThere were tries aplenty as the Vodacom Cup moved up a gear with the quarter-finals moving into sight for the 16 teams vying for the title.

In the South Section, the SWD Eagles probably delivered the biggest upset as they outplayed the Cell C Sharks XV in George on Friday evening, winning comfortably by 36 / 13 after a superb 2nd half performance where they scored 29 unanswered points.

GWK Griquas showed they will not let go of their title without a proper fight as they completely outclassed the Boland Cavaliers by 62 / 19 in Velddrif on Saturday afternoon, while the Toyota Free State XV beat the EP Kings by 50 / 45 in an extraordinary match in Bloemfontein where the scorers with still tied at 42 / 42 with only 5 minutes remaining on the clock.

DHL Western Province were predictably too strong for the Border Bulldogs as they cemented their position at the top of the South Section log with a 34 / 6 win on Saturday afternoon.

In the North Section, last weekend’s log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, enjoyed a BYE and was overtaken at the top of the standings by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, who beat the Down Touch Griffons by 40 / 21 in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.

The Steval Pumas’ 31 / 23 victory over the Leopards XV in Potchefstroom on Friday means the race to the top of the North Section log is now effectively between 3 teams.

The FNB Welwitschias recorded their 1st win of the season when they beat the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls by 24 / 17 in Windhoek on Saturday afternoon.

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Vodacom CupThe 6 teams occupying positions 2 to 7 on the South Section log clash in 3 encounters this weekend, which will have a major impact on the eventual standings in the Vodacom Cup.

First up on Friday evening, the SWD Eagles (4th) host the Cell C Sharks XV (6th) at scenic Outeniqua Park in George, where both teams will be looking for their 2nd win of the season.

On Saturday, 2nd-placed GWK Griquas – 1 of only 3 unbeaten teams left in the competition – travel to Velddrif to take on the Boland Cavaliers (7th), before the Toyota Free State XV (3rd) host the 5th-placed EP Kings in Bloemfontein.

The other South Section clash is in Cape Town between the table-topping DHL Western Province, also unbeaten in 2015, and the Border Bulldogs, who are still looking for their 1st log points after 3 Rounds.

With the top side in the North Section, the Xerox Golden Lions, having a BYE this weekend, the big match is on Friday afternoon between the Leopards XV and the Steval Pumas in Potchefstroom.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls will have an opportunity to move to the Top of the Northern Section log when they host the Down Touch Griffons in Pretoria on Friday afternoon, while the FNB Welwitschias and Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls take each other on in a bottom-of-the-table clash in Windhoek.

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Western Province back Pat Howard has reportedly signed a deal with English Premiership club Northampton Saints.

While the news is yet to be officially announced, it is reported that Howard will leave the Cape union later this year.

The 23-year-old Howard, who can play wing and centre, is contracted with WP until 31 October.

This means he will in all likelihood be asked to stay until the end of this year’s Currie Cup.

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Vodacom CupIt was business as usual at the top of the North and South Section logs with 4 of the top 5 in the divisions recording victories, to remain on course for home play-off’s.

The ‘best’ result of the day was secured by North Section leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, who recorded a hard-fought 24 / 16 victory over the Steval Pumas, the only team among the top 5 not to win, having started Round 5 in 2nd place.

The Lions’ 5th successive win allowed the Vodacom Blue Bulls to leapfrog the Steval Pumas into 2nd position on the North Section Log, courtesy of a 44 / 0 victory in Windhoek.

In the South, DHL Western Province and GWK Griquas both maintained their 100% records with their 3rd successive victories, the former edging the EP Kings by 6 points in Port Elizabeth while GWK Griquas had an easier time of it, beating the Border Bulldogs by 12 in Hartswater.

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs XV stayed in contention in the South Section with a 35 / 18 win over the Cell C Sharks XV in Kokstad, while in the North the Hino Valke recorded their 1st victory at the 4th attempt, with a 38 / 17 victory over the Down Touch Griffons.

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Vodacom CupThe intensity of the Vodacom Cup is expected to rise significantly this weekend as the pool stages reach the halfway stage and the reality sets in for the teams that only 4 Rounds remain for them to secure their places in the final stages.

The main match-up in the North Section will be in Nelspruit on Saturday where log-leaders the Xerox Golden Lions go up against the Steval Pumas in a table-topping clash, while in the South Section GWK Griquas will look to close in on DHL Western Province on the log table.

The unbeaten DHL Western Province will travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the EP Kings on Saturday, which could prove to be a tight encounter, but GWK Griquas, who have also won both of their matches, will be hoping to make the most of their clash against the Border Bulldogs, who have yet to secure a log point this season, in Kimberley.

In the other South Section clashes, the Boland Cavaliers host the SWD Eagles in Wellington on Friday and the Cell C Sharks XV go up against the Toyota Free State XV in Kokstad on Saturday in what could be a hard-fought battle.

In the North Section, the Down Touch Griffons host the Hino Valke in Welkom, and the FNB Welwitschias meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Windhoek on Friday, where the hosts will look to register their 1st victory.

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Vodacom CupThe Vodacom Cup is now fully underway across the length and breadth of South Africa and Namibia and sparks are set to fly in George, Cape Town and Pretoria this weekend.

At picturesque Outeniqua Park, the SWD Eagles have a great opportunity to win their 2nd successive home game when they host the defending champions from Kimberley, GWK Griquas, on Friday evening. It’s a replay of last year’s quarter-final.

There is another top-of-the-table clash in the South Section on Saturday afternoon when DHL Western Province, Vodacom Cup champions in 2012, host the Cell C Sharks XV in Athlone, Cape Town. Both these teams lost in the quarter-finals last season.

In the North Section, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will want to get back to winning ways when they host the high-flying Steval Pumas in Pretoria. The side from the Lowveld top the Log, with 3 wins from 3 and have been impressive this season, amassing 170 points at an average of almost 57 per match.

This week we feature 1 of the best young tight forwards in the country as well as 1 of the top try-scorers from 2014 in Toyota Free State XV hooker Joseph Dweba and Boland Cavaliers wing Harlon Klaasen, who will face off against each other in Heidedal, Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

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Vodacom CupThe South Section of the Vodacom Cup kicked off on Friday evening with a resounding victory for the SWD Eagles, while the Cell C Sharks XV and Steval Pumas got 50-pointers without conceding a point on Saturday.

Apart from these 3 matches, the 4 others played this weekend were much closer affairs.

On Friday, the Xerox Golden Lions remained unbeaten when they beat northern neighbours the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Johannesburg.

Saturday’s other matches saw wins for DHL Western Province in Caledon, where loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe scored 4 tries, GWK Griquas in Port Elizabeth and the Leopards XV in Lichtenburg.

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Vodacom CupVenues as far afield as Secunda, Lichtenburg and Caledon will play host this weekend as the Vodacom Cup picks up speed with action in the South Section getting underway.

The first match in the South Section is on Friday evening is in George, where the SWD Eagles host the Toyota Free State XV.

Three more matches in this section follow on Saturday, one of which will see the defending champions in action when GWK Griquas travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the EP Kings. The other 2 South Section matches are scheduled for Durban (Cell C Sharks XV vs Border Bulldogs) and Caledon (Boland Cavaliers vs DHL Western Province).

The biggest match in the North Section is on Friday afternoon when 2 of the 3 unbeaten sides, the Xerox Golden Lions and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, square off in Johannesburg.

On Saturday, the action in the North Section moves to the platteland, more specifically Lichtenburg (Leopards XV vs Hino Valke) and Secunda (Steval Pumas vs Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls).

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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas, Xerox Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls all recorded good victories in Round 2 of the Vodacom Cup this weekend.

These 3 teams from the North Section are tied on 10 Log points at the top of the standings, with the Steval Pumas in 1st position because of a better points’ difference.

There were only 3 matches in this Round. The action in the South Section will kick off next weekend.

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Vodacom CupNo fewer than 24 tries were scored in the 1st 4 matches of the Vodacom Cup in 2015, with big wins for the Xerox Golden Lions, Steval Pumas, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Leopards XV.

• The Vodacom Blue Bulls easily overcame the Hino Valke in Kempton Park by 37 / 13.

• The Xerox Golden Lions trounced the Namibian FNB Welwitschias by 53 / 3 in Windhoek.

• The Steval Pumas romped over the Down Touch Griffons by 57 / 18 in Nelspruit.

• In the last game of Vodacom Cup action for the weekend, the Leopards XV beat a spirited Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls side by 22 / 9 in Potchefstroom.

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Vodacom CupThe Vodacom Cup, the breeding ground for future South African rugby stars, kicks off this weekend with four matches in the North Section scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

The first match will take place on the East Rand, when the Hino Valke host the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park.

Only teams from the North Section are in action this weekend as well as in round two, with the South Section due to get underway in two weeks’ time.

Over the years, the Vodacom Cup has established itself as the competition where Springboks are made. Of the 14 players featured by SARU last year, nine players have since featured at Junior Springbok, Vodacom Super Rugby or Springbok level.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen was the star of the annual South African Rugby Union Player of the Year Awards when he walked off with 3 awards, including the main award of the season.

Vermeulen was named SARU Rugby Player of the Year after an extensive voting process, which included the country’s rugby media and the public through SARU’s online and social media platforms.

The 28-year-old Vermeulen, who will captain the DHL Stormers this year, also won the coveted SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2014.

“Duane has been outstanding in 2014 and these awards are just reward for the excellent form he showed last year, as one of the Springboks’ key performers and for the DHL Stormers,” said SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins.

Hot on Vermeulen’s heels, with two awards, was young Springbok flyhalf and Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard.

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Vodacom Cup16 Teams, split into 2 Sections of 8 each, will contest the 2015 Vodacom Cup, with defending champions GWK Griquas heading up a strong South Section and the Welwitschias from Namibia back in the competition and replacing the Kenyan Tusker Simba XV side who has withdrawn due to financial considerations.

Joining the 5-time champions from Kimberley in the South Section will be winners in 2012, DHL Western Province, as well as the Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, Cell C Sharks XV, EP Kings, SWD Eagles and Toyota Free State XV.

The Xerox Golden Lions, runners up last year and champions in 2013, are in the North Section with the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, Down Touch Griffons, Leopards XV, Steval Pumas, Valke, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Welwitschias from Namibia.

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Tusker Simba XVRugby development in Africa took a heavy blow this week when Kenya withdrew their team from this year’s Vodacom Cup competition.

The Tusker Simba XV that took part in last year’s competition was meant to be involved in the 2015 edition as well, but have had to withdraw from all games as they don’t have the financial resources to field a team in the competition.

The invitation for them to participate came from SA Rugby to help with rugby development in Africa, and was seen as a key part of Kenya’s development as a rugby nation, especially after their success at Sevens level.

The Tusker Simba XV finished second last in last year’s Southern Section, above the Border Bulldogs.

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MJ Mentz - Pumas head coach

MJ Mentz – Pumas head coach

MJ Mentz has been handed the reigns for the Pumas in their upcoming Vodacom Cup campaign and the coach is looking to keep a similar system going.

The Pumas enjoyed a successful year in 2014 as they toppled some of the bigger teams in the Currie Cup through their gritty determination.

“The secret to our success this year will certainly lie in our communication skills and a shared goal,” Mentz said.

The new coach also said the last two years coaching under the mentorship of coach Jimmy Stonehouse was a great stepping-stone in his coaching career.

The way Stonehouse maintained discipline in the squad was a huge encouragement and now Mentz would like to add his way to the existing system.

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Steval PumasThe Nelspruit-based Steval Pumas have retained the bulk of their coaching squad, without appointing a new head coach.

The top spot in the coaching became vacant earlier this month when head coach Jimmy Stonehouse resigned from his position to join Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus.

On Thursday the board of directors of the Mpumalanga Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed they have decided to leave the coaching team intact for the duration of the 2015 Vodacom Cup.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.

Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.

The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.

Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.

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Xerox Golden LionsComing off a highly successful 2014 rugby season in all areas, the Lions have announced the final signings of players for the 2015 season

The GLRU has worked hard in maintaining growth potential in junior players and increasing depth where needed.

The Lions have managed to attact six SA Schools players for the Under 19 squad in Nazo Nkala, Barend Smit, Sarel Smith, Kenny van Niekerk and Marco van Vuuren.

In the Under 21 squad there are seven players who took part in the recent Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Cyle Brink, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ramone Samuels, Victor Sekeketi and Currie Cup player Jaco van der Walt.

In the senior squad the Lions boast seven players who are either capped by the Springboks or were involved this year, as well as BlitzBokke in Albertus “Kwagga” Smith and their captain Warren Whiteley who is both a Springbok and a Sevens Bok.

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Vodacom Blue BullsAs 2014 draws to an end, and the festive spirit starts to take over, it also brings with it a time to reflect on the year gone by. The Blue Bulls Company today hosted their annual Player Awards at very casual and relaxed event hosted on the Loftus B-Field.

All the contracted players, including the Under 19’s, Under 21’s and senior teams, attended the event. They were also joined by a host of team management, administration staff, sponsors and partners.


Full list of awards:

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Vodacom CupThe Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) has welcomed the inclusion of a Namibian team in next year’s Vodacom Cup competition.

NRU president Bradley Basson, confirmed on Tuesday that the South African Rugby Union has agreed to Namibia’s request to be included in the 16-team competition that will run from early March through to the end of May.

“It is the best thing that could have happened to Namibian rugby in our build-up towards the Rugby World Cup, we have a number of local based players who are not exposed to high level rugby and they will benefit from this,” said Basson from Carcavelos, Portugal where the national team is preparing for a test match against Portugal on Saturday.

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GWK GriquasVodacom CupGWK Griquas dethroned the defending champions to clinch the Vodacom Cup for the 5th time when they beat the Golden Lions by 30-6 in the final at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.

These 2 teams are now the undoubted kings of Vodacom Cup rugby, both with 5 titles out of the 17 on offer since the inception of the competition in 1998.

It was GWK Griquas’ first Vodacom Cup title since 2009 and also avenged their home defeat in the in the final seconds of the 2012 final against DHL Western Province. They won their other Vodacom Cup titles in 1998, when they also beat the Golden Lions in the final, as well as 2005 and 2007.

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Vodacom CupGolden LionsGWK GriquasThe 2 biggest ‘dogs’ in the history of the Vodacom Cup, the Golden Lions and GWK Griquas, take on each other in Kimberley on Friday evening in the grand finale of the competition in 2014.

Between these 2 sides, who will clash at 19:10 SA Time at GWK Park, they have won the Vodacom Cup 9 times since its inception in 1998. That means more than half of all the titles have gone either to Johannesburg or Kimberley.

It’s the Lions’ 2nd visit to Kimberley this year. They lost their Round 5 encounter at GWK Park by 33-18.

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Golden LionsGolden Lions Head Coach, Russell Winter, has announced his team to take on GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Friday night.

Should the Golden Lions win, they will remain as the team with the most victories in the competition with 6, but if Griquas triumph they will join the Golden Lions as 5 time winners of the competition.

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Vodacom CupThe two most successful teams in Vodacom Cup history, GWK Griquas and the Golden Lions, will contest the 2014 final after both won their semi-finals away from home this weekend.

In both matches, the team that scored more tries were knocked out and the points’ difference in the semi-finals in Nelspruit and Pretoria was a single point.

On Friday evening in Nelspruit, the Steval Pumas lost their first match of the season when they went down by 14-15 to four-time champions, GWK Griquas, after a last-minute penalty goal by fullback Gouws Prinsloo.

The visitors to the Mbombela Stadium had the best possible start when flyhalf Francois Brummer put them ahead by 3-0 after only 20 seconds with a well-struck drop-goal.

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Golden LionsGolden Lions head coach Russell Winter has named his 22-man side to front the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a Vodacom Cup semi-final clash on Saturday.

The team remains unchanged from last week’s side that trumped the Cell C Sharks XV 27-20 in Durban.

The venue for the game has been changed to take place at Loftus Versfeld, after carefull scrutiny of the rules of the tournament, leading to the conclusion that the Vodacom Blue Bulls are ahead of the Golden Lions on the Logs and therefore should host the semi-final.

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Vodacom CupWith 12 titles out of 16 between them, three of the four teams contesting the Vodacom Cup semi-finals this weekend – all of them from the North Section – know a thing or two about winning this competition.

It’s only the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013 and the only unbeaten team this season, that hasn’t won the Vodacom Cup.

But the Golden Lions, whose title last year was their fifth, GWK Griquas (four-times champions) and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (three-time champions) have dominated the competition between them since its inception in 1998.

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Vodacom Blue BullsA late venue change handed the Vodacom Blue Bulls home ground advantage for their Vodacom Cup semifinal match against defending champions, the Golden Lions, on Saturday.

The two teams will now meet at Loftus Versfeld due to the hosts finishing above their southern neighbour on the points log.

The match was originally scheduled for Johannesburg on Friday, but a proper look at the regulations of the competition prompted a venue switch.

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Vodacom CupGWK Griquas scored the biggest playoff victory in the history of the Vodacom Cup as all four teams from the North Section proved too strong for their counterparts from the South and progressed to the semi-finals.

With three of the winning margins over the weekend between one and seven points, GWK Griquas’ 84-15 victory over the SWD Eagles perhaps best illustrated the dominance the North had over the South.

The previous biggest victory in a playoff match also involved the team from the Northern Cape, when they lost 73-7 to the Golden Lions in the 1999 Final.

The Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls, with eight Vodacom Cup titles between them, had to travel for their quarter-finals, while the Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas won their playoffs at home.

This means that for a second successive year the winner of the Vodacom Cup will come from the North Section – last year the Golden Lions proved too strong for the Steval Pumas in the Final in Nelspruit.

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