ALL club rugby roads will lead to the Boland on Saturday as local sides Roses United and Wesbank look to stake their claim for a place in the Cell C Community Cup Easter play-offs in George next month.
Roses, the Boland Premier League champions, will become the first team to qualify for the Easter weekend knockout matches – to be played on 17, 19 and 21 April at Outeniqua Park – if they can overcome Refreshhh! Centurion of the Blue Bulls, who themselves are looking to progress to the last eight from Pool C following a bonus-point win over BB Truck Noordelikes in their debut match last weekend.
The Wellington-based side caused a major shock on the opening weekend of SARU's flagship tournament for non-university clubs when they beat 2013 bronze medallists G5 Metals Brakpan 27-26 at their Pelican Park fortress, before overcoming Valke wild cards Kaufela Boksburg on the road last week.
Brakpan got their campaign back on track on Thursday evening when they beat Boksburg 48-23 at Bosman Stadium, in what was the first-ever open-club match to be broadcast live on a weeknight.
And in Malmesbury, a large crowd is expected at the Wesbank Sportsgrounds where Wesbank host WP's top open club, Hamiltons, in an intriguing Pool D fixture at which the prize on offer – the priceless Gold Cup – will be on display.
Wesbank must win to keep their chances alive, following their first-round away loss to Shumba Ferros, who travel to Kathu on Saturday needing to beat Aveng Moolmans Sishen to stay in the play-off hunt.
Kempston Old Selbornians will look to get within one win of qualification when they host SWD champions Bridgton at Kempston Park in East London on Saturday, following their nailbiting 20-19 away victory over Spring Rose last weekend – a result which has all but knocked the New Brighton side out of contention.
The main beneficiaries of Spring Roses' demise may well be Mossel Bay Barbarians, who travel to Port Elizabeth to take on defending champions Gap Management Despatch.
They have a bonus-point victory over Bridgton already in the bag, and a home game against Old Selbornians still to look forward to.
And in Pool B, Bloemfontein Crusaders will do their qualification chances no harm if they can shock last year's runners-up, Jonsson College Rovers, at the Clive Solomon Stadium in Heidedal, while Roodepoort will book their tickets to George if they beat Eagle Towing Rovers in Welkom.
Interestingly, this weekend's seven matches will feature no fewer than five referees on SARU's National panel – Daniel Fortuin (Roses Utd v Centurion), Jadezweni Cwengile (Wesbank v Hamiltons), Jaco Kotze (Crusaders v College Rovers), Archie Sehlako (Old Selbornians v Bridgton) and Lusanda Jam (Despatch v Barbarians).
Cell C Community Cup fixtures (all kick-off times 16h00 unless otherwise indicated):
Round 3 – Saturday 22 March:
Match 17 (Pool A) – Kempston Old Selbornians vs Bridgton (Kempston Park, East London)
Match 18 (Pool A) – Gap Management Despatch vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch)
Match 19 (Pool B) – Bloemfontein Crusaders vs Jonsson College Rovers (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)
Match 20 (Pool B) – Eagle Towing Rovers vs Roodepoort (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom, 16h30)
Match 21 (Pool C) – Roses United vs Refreshhh! Centurion (Pelican Park, Wellington)
Match 23 (Pool D) – Aveng Moolmans Sishen vs Shumba Ferros (Sivos Rugby Stadium, Kathu)
Match 24 (Pool D) – Wesbank vs Hamiltons (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)
Byes: Spring Rose, E-Car Welkom, BB Truck Noordelikes, Rustenburg Impala.