FERROS Rugby Club will look to cap a memorable season by becoming the eighth team to qualify for the 2014 Cell C Community Cup, when they face fierce rivals Malelane in the Mpumalanga Buscor League final at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.
The match caps off a full programme at the home of Pumas rugby, which includes the Lowveld (10h30) and Senior League (12h30) club finals before the Steval Pumas host the Valke in an Absa Currie Cup First Division clash at 15h00.
This will be followed by the Buscor League final at 17h00, with the presence of the Community Cup's iconic Gold Cup trophy sure to leave both sides in no doubt as to the extra prize on offer for the winner.
Ferros are the form team in Pumas club rugby this season, having won 11 of their 12 matches to finish the league stages on top of the log, two points ahead of perennial champions Middelburg, against whom they suffered their only loss.
The Emalahleni-based side then enjoyed a walkover against an injury-ravaged Nelspruit in the semi-finals, while Malelane surprised Middelburg 30-27 away from home in the other match to set up what is likely to be an evenly-contested final.
Ferros beat Malelane home and away this year but an 18-16 away win in May, followed by a 34-21 victory at home last month, suggests that whichever team is hungrier on the day should take the spoils and join College Rovers (KZN), Brakpan (Falcons), Roodepoort (Golden Lions), Sishen (Griquas), GAP Despatch (defending champions), Bloemfontein Crusaders (Free State) and newcomers Centurion (Blue Bulls) in the second edition of SARU's elite tournament for non-university clubs.
Elsewhere around the country, Durbanville-Bellville have opened up a crucial three-point lead over arch-rivals Hamiltons with just four rounds to play in the Community Cup race in Western Province, following Hamiltons' 25-12 loss to UCT in a rain-soaked Super League A match at the university grounds on Wednesday night.
The result leaves Hamiltons on 50 points from their 14 matches, three behind Durbell and new log leaders Maties, whose 20-7 win over fellow Stellenbosch University side Victorians on Wednesday sees the two sides level pegging on log points (53) but the students ahead on points difference.
Things are just as close in the Eastern Province Grand Challenge, with Community Cup champions Despatch and Spring Rose still separated by just a single point at the top of the table with one round remaining.
This weekend's matches will therefore not only provide Spring Rose with a chance of qualifying automatically for the Community Cup should they win and Despatch lose, but also give third-placed NMMU, who are four points adrift but have two games in hand, a target to aim for in terms of overall league honours.
Should Despatch and Spring Rose register victories against Suburban and Kruisfontein respectively, Despatch will represent EP at the Community Cup as the province's champions, while Roses will be considered for a wild card place.
Should Spring Rose win and Despatch lose, Roses will represent EP at the tournament and Despatch will be invited back as defending champions.
An equally tight tussle for top honours is developing in the Boland Premier League, where only four points separate 2013 Community Cup wild cards Roses United, second-placed Wesbank and defending champions Villagers Worcester, who will be looking to return to the Community Cup next year.
Roses United have won all 11 of their matches so far for a total of 51 points. Wesbank (48) and Worcester (47) are hot on Roses' heels but have played one match more, which could prove crucial in the final outcome.
This Saturday's match-ups could also see fourth-placed Ceres (40), who also have a game in hand, add their name to the list of title and Community Cup contenders, should they beat Wesbank at home.
Roses face fifth-placed Hawston and know that only a continuation of their unbeaten run will ensure that they become only the second wild card after Bloemfontein Crusaders to return to the Community Cup as champions of their province.
This weekend's Premier League club fixtures from around SA (as supplied to SARU by its provincial unions):
Cross-border Predator Super League, Saturday (Round 4 of 5):
Pool A – Naka Bulls vs Wanderers, Union vs Springs
Pool B – Kempton Wolves vs TUT
Blue Bulls – Carlton League:
League & Cup final won by Tuks. See above for Predator fixtures involving Blue Bulls teams.
Blue Bulls Limpopo – Boet Fick Senior League, Saturday (Round 9 of 10):
Pietersburg vs Messina
Letaba vs Louis Trichardt
Loskop vs Noordelikes
Boland – Premier League, Saturday (Round 13 of 18):
Saldanha vs Robertson
Ceres vs Wesbank
Villagers Worcester vs Vredenburg
Roses Utd vs Hawston
Black Leaves vs Wellington
Border – Premier League:
Round-robin stages completed. Quarter-finals 23/24 August.
EP – Grand Challenge, Saturday (Final round):
Crusaders vs African Bombers
Orlando Eagles vs Park
Utd Barbarians vs Harlequins
Suburban vs Despatch
St Marks vs NMMU
Kruisfontein vs Spring Rose
Brumbies vs SAPS
Free State – City League:
No matches – League & Cup final won by Shimlas.
Golden Lions – Pirates Grand Challenge:
League won by Roodepoort. See above for Predator fixtures involving Lions teams.
Griffons – 1st League:
No matches – date of final between Welkom Rovers and one of Welkom or Henneman TBC.
Griquas – Super League:
No matches – League won by Sishen.
KZN – Fidelity Security Moor Cup:
No matches – League won by College Rovers. Castle Lager Murray Cup kicks off 17 August.
Leopards – Neser A League:
League & Cup final won by Potch Dorp. See above for Predator fixtures involving Leopards teams.
Mpumalanga – Buscor Super League, Saturday (Cup final):
Ferros vs Malelane, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit, 17h00.
SWD – Premier League, Saturday (Round 19 of 22):
Silver Stars vs All Blacks
Bridgton vs Progress
Uniondale vs Barbarians
Evergreens vs Groot-Brakrivier
Crusaders vs Bonnievale Utd
Blanco vs Swellendam
Valke – Peregrine Super League:
League & Cup final won by Brakpan. See above for Predator fixtures involving Valke teams.
WP – Super League A:
No matches. Next fixtures Wed 14 Aug.