The Cell C Community Cup race to George comes down to the wire in Saturday's final round of pool action, with three clubs set to scrap for the two remaining Easter play-off places and the six teams who have already qualified still in the dark as to who their quarter-final opponents will be.
Defending champions Gap Management Despatch and Kempston Old Selbornians (Pool A), Jonsson College Rovers and Roodepoort (Pool B), and Hamiltons and Rustenburg Impala (Pool D) have already booked their places in the knockout stages of SARU's flagship national club tournament for non-university clubs, which takes place once again at Outeniqua Park from 17-21 April.
But it's in Pool C where any two of Roses United, Refreshhh! Centurion or G5 Metals Brakpan can qualify and the likelihood of points difference eventually settling the sides cannot be discounted.
Unbeaten Roses (13 log points from 3 matches), who edged Brakpan by one point and drew to Centurion, will qualify top of the group if they beat bottom-placed but resurgent BB Truck Noordelikes with a bonus point in Polokwane (kick-off 16h30). And with Brakpan and Centurion both on 12 points, their match in Centurion (kick-off 16h30) effectively means that the knockout rounds have come a week early, with the loser almost certainly set to be eliminated from the race.
A bonus-point win for either Brakpan or Centurion, coupled with a win for Roses but without a bonus point, would see two sides finish top of the Pool – and numerous tie-breakers coming into effect, the first of which would be the result of the match between the two teams. In one scenario, should Centurion and Roses be tied, their drawn match would mean points difference will be used, after which tries difference, most points, and most tries – in that order – will determine the higher ranked team.
Developments in the two Pool C matches in Centurion and Polokwane will also be watched closely in Rustenburg by home side Impala and visitors Hamiltons, who will fight it out for top spot in Pool D (kick-off 16h00). The winner of this eagerly anticipated clash in the Platinum belt will face the runner-up from Pool C in the quarter-finals in George, with the loser playing the Pool C winner.
Adding intrigue to the permutations is that the Impala-Hamiltons match kicks off half an hour earlier than the two Pool C clashes, meaning that both sides will only know their play-off opponents on Saturday evening.
A similar scenario will play out in Pools A and B, with Old Selbornians and Despatch clashing at Kempston Park in East London (kick-off 16h00) to determine who wins Pool A and therefore plays Roodepoort in the quarter-finals. A defeat for Despatch would mean a repeat of the 2013 final against Jonsson College Rovers, who are assured of finishing top of Pool B.
Elsewhere around the country, there is still plenty to play for for those teams out of play-off contention, with log positions determining ranking of teams for the 2015 Community Cup. Spring Rose and Mossel Bay Barbarians fight it out for third place in Pool A in New Brighton, while Bloemfontein Crusaders stand a good chance of ending third in Pool B should they beat bottom-placed E-Car Welkom in the Northern Free State mining town.
In Pool C, come Saturday night one of Roses United, Brakpan and Centurion will have to be satisfied with third place, while Aveng Moolmans Sishen will crown off a vastly-improved campaign with third place in Pool D should they overcome Wesbank.
Final-round Cell C Community Cup fixtures (all kick-off times 16h00 unless otherwise indicated):
Round 5 – Saturday 5 April:
Match 33 (Pool A) – Spring Rose vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (New Brighton Oval, Port Elizabeth, 15h30)
Match 34 (Pool A) – Kempston Old Selbornians v Gap Management Despatch (Kempston Park, East London)
Match 35 (Pool B) – Jonsson College Rovers vs Eagle Towing Rovers (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 15h00)
Match 36 (Pool B) – E-Car Welkom vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Griffons Rugby Stadium 'B' field, Welkom)
Match 37 (Pool C) – Refreshhh! Centurion vs G5 Metals Brakpan (Centurion Rugby Club, Centurion, 16h30)
Match 38 (Pool C) – BB Truck Noordelikes vs Roses United (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane, 16h30)
Match 39 (Pool D) – Rustenburg Impala vs Hamiltons (Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)
Match 40 (Pool D) – Aveng Moolmans Sishen vs Wesbank (Sivos Rugby Stadium, Kathu)
Byes: Bridgton, Roodepoort, Kaufela Boksburg, Shumba Ferros.