The Women’s Interprovincial Series will reach boiling point this weekend as the top four teams go head-to-head in the semifinals for a shot at winning the title.
Defending champions Western Province take on the Sharks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal at 14h00 on Saturday, while Border hosts Free State at the BCM Stadium in East London at 15h00.
Of the four teams only the Sharks remain unbeaten after completing the round-robin stages with a full-house of points.
However, there was a big disparity in the quality of rugby in the A and B sections of the A Division, which was illustrated by the large number of tries scored by the Sharks and Free State compared to that of Border and Western Province.
In total the Sharks scored 37 tries in four matches and the Free State 32, while Border managed only 11 and Western Province 13 respectively. Given this significant difference, the round is expected to serve as a tough test for the Durban and Bloemfontein sides.
Should Border win their semifinal, they will secure a home final. However, should they go down to the Cape side, Western Province will secure a home final, as the A Section is ranked higher than section B given the quality of the teams competing.
Regardless of this Border and Western Province will expect their defensive systems to be tested as their opposition would have gained immense confidence from their strong attack throughout the pool stages, and will look to build on this with an eye on securing a final berth.
That said Western Province and Border will take comfort from the fact that they boast handful of players who assisted the Springbok Women book their place at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France with a convincing 63-3 victory against Uganda in East London last weekend.
Their presence is expected to bolster their teams’ confidence.
The Western Province contingent includes veteran Natasha Hofmeester, Laurian Johannes, Veroeshka Grain and Andrea Mentoor, while Border welcomes back a handful of players who were withdrawn from their final league match against Western Province to prevent them from suffering injuries ahead of the Test.
This includes hard-working Women’s captain Mandisa Williams, Lamla Momoti, Nolusindiso Booi, Fundiswa Plaatjie and Nwabisa Ngxatu, who all started against Uganda.