It looks more and more likely that it will be an even split with two teams from Border and two from Eastern Province making it to the semi-finals, striking a perfect balance and competitiveness. As things stand now in Group A Progress is sitting on top, unbeaten on 18 points, followed by surprise package Ncerha Leopards on 14 points. Group B have African Bombers unbeaten on 19 points followed closely by Swallows, also unbeaten on 17 points.
Three teams remain on 100% winning ratio after four rounds. Although Progress, African Bombers and Swallows is unbeaten, surprisingly, mathematically not one semi-final spot have been secured yet, with up to 4 teams in each group still standing a chance to qualify, pending results go their way.
Central Stadium in Uitenhage have once again proved to be the fortress of nightmares for visiting teams, as proven when Progress annihilated, smashed and humiliated a hapless Black Eagles side 110-0, to rewrite the record books with the biggest winning margin in the history of the competition. One must spare a thought for the beleaguered Eagles side, who now carry the unwanted record that was previously held by Old Collegians when they suffered a horrendous 88-3 hiding at the hands of the same Progress at the same venue in 2014.
On the other hand, Ncerha Leopards have made a statement of intend and in the process put themselves up there with the best with their come from behind 28-27 win over Park. What make this win so special is that it was achieved away from home and a full haul of five points. Ncerha Leopards have overshadowed their more illustrious counterparts in Border clubs EL Police and Old Selbornians. It shows that it was by no fluke that the team went five league games unbeaten last season when everybody started to take note of their pedigree.
Young Leopards recorded their second victory with a bonus point 26-17 win over Breakers. The struggle continues for Gardens after losing their fourth match 46-31 against Old Boys in East London. African Bomber made light work of Kruisfontein with a comfortable 30-11 win at Zwide Stadium. Swallows continued their dominant self with a 38-15 bonus point victory over Trying Stars. Swallows coach Ntando Kebe said after the match at NU1 Stadium of their chances to win the Super 14, “It is our dream and that’s our goal at the end of the day we want to win the tournament. Every week we take it day by day and we are not panicking on any of our performances because each weekend we improve’. When asked how the loss of players of calibre like Billy Dutton and Aphiwe Stemele is affecting the team, he responded by saying that they are blessed with a wealth of depth in the squad and its opportunities for other players to step up as shown by their young flyhalf. He also stated that they have a fleet of loose forwards they can call on anytime.
Taking permutations into account, Progress, Bombers and Swallows are the clear favourites to lift the Super 14 crown. In Group A it looks more and more likely a three-horse race for the two spots. Progress should take pole position, but where it is exciting is the battle for second spot between Ncerha Leopards and Harlequins. Ncerha is sitting on 14 points after four matches with Harlequins on 10 with three games to play. This weekends game at Ntenteni Fields between the two sides is a straight knockout. Both teams have only lost once to Progress. Both teams are also scheduled to play Black Eagles, with both expecting an easy win although both playing Eagles away. Harlequins must also play Breakers away. In Group B, it’s a two-horse race between African Bombers and Swallows. Both teams can afford to lose a match and still qualify for the semis. The match on the 22 February between the two sides will determine who tops the log. Swallows have one hurdle though, and that’s to deal with Kruisfontein away this weekend.
Other matches, Breakers welcome a rampant Progress at Thobi Kula Stadium. Park travel to Black Eagles with Trying Stars hosting Old Selbornians. Garden is at home to Police with African Bombers and Young Leopards bye.