The Vodacom Cup features a top of the table clash between the Wildebeest and Falcons in the sixth round this weekend. Michael Vlismas reports.
The two teams have enjoyed a superb start to their campaigns and share first place on the log on 19 points, with the Wildebeest unbeaten in four games and the Falcons having lost only once in five matches. While not quite a fortress, the Bosman Stadium in Brakpan has tripped up some of the bigger unions this season, including the likes of the Lions and the Vodacom Cheetahs.
Falcons coach John Williams has moulded a team that is hard, uncompromising and defensively sound. They have also shown a fair amount of ingenuity on attack to silence their many pre-season critics.
The Wildebeest have also performed above expectations, with coach Swys de Bruin and his staff unearthing some superb talent in the form of flyhalf Scott Spedding, prop Sangoni Mxoli and SA Under 19 lock and captain Alistair Hargreaves.
The Lions face a difficult trip to Potchefstroom on Friday night for their match against an ever-improving Leopards side. Timmy Goodwin’s team are 10th on the log with defeats to the Falcons and the Pumas, and their victory over the Border Bulldogs last week was unconvincing.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls are coming off a loss to the Leopards and will want to set the record straight against the Griffons on Saturday. The Blue Bulls have yet to hit top form, losing two of their five games.
Another stellar fixture this week is the match between the Pumas and Vodacom Western Province in Witbank on Friday night.
The Pumas have lost two in a row after starting with three wins, while Western Province have only won two of their five games. A win last week against the log-leading Falcons should provide some sort of morale boost for Stanley Raubenheimer’s WP men.
In the weekend’s other games, the Cheetahs desperately need a win against the Bulldogs in East London on Friday night to lift themselves further away from the bottom three on the log.
The Mighty Elephants and the Boland Cavaliers take rugby to the community on Saturday with their match in Despatch. This is the first of three Vodacom Cup community games to be played this season.