The EP Grand Challenge battle for supremacy reaches a mid-season highlight when PE SAPS strive to show they are worthy title contenders in a home clash at Kemsley Park against logleaders Despatch this Saturday.
Even though Despatch suffered a slight stumble last week, the two clubs have been head and shoulders above rest of the teams in the competition this year and this should be a thrilling showdown with no mercy asked for or given.
Despatch head the log with 41 points from nine matches, while the policemen are snapping at their heels with 37 points from eight matches. The gulf between them and the rest is shown by the fact that the next best team are Spring Rose, with 24 points from seven matches.
The unexpected defeat of Despatch by Gardens last week will have given the ambitious SAPS an indication that nobody is unbeatable. The policemen have put a massive effort into their club in recent years and they want to show they can compete with the best.
They received a wild card in the Cell C Community Cup this year and now have a chance to clinch an automatic berth in the national club championship if they can finish top of the Grand Challenge log.
However, SAPS president Danie Gouws said they were very aware of the challenge they faced against Despatch.
“We have huge respect for Despatch and we know they go into the match as the favourites,” Gouws said. “But we are obviously very happy with the way our season has gone and although we have a few injuries, we are ready to go out there and it give it our best.”
While SAPS know there is still a long way to go towards clinching the title, a win on Saturday over Despatch would be the first step to achieving that objective.
The home side can expect a massive backlash after the Gardens result as the pride of Despatch will be at stake in this encounter. There are valid reasons why the Despatch men have been at the head of the pack in recent seasons and they realise that a victory over SAPS will be just the spark they need to re-ignite their season.
Gardens and Spring Rose are involved in a tight tussle for third spot and there could be some interesting developments this weekend. The Uitenhage team will be firmly favoured to defeat Crusaders in Rosedale, while Spring Rose have a tricky encounter in Grahamstown against the Brumbies.
Park, who outclassed Saders last weekend, will be looking to inflict further misery on bottom-placed African Bombers. The Bombers outfit have lost all seven matches this season and it won’t get any easier at Londt Park.
In the remaining fixture, Harlequins host Kruisfontein and will be keen to notch another win, although that will not be achieved without a concerted effort against the combative Humansdorp outfit.
The fixtures, kicking off at 3.30pm, are: Brumbies v Spring Rose at Grahamstown Oval, Park v African Bombers at Londt Park, Gardens v Crusaders at Rosedale, PE SAPS v Despatch at Kemsley Park, Harlequins v Kruisfontein at Adcock Stadium
The latest log is (matches in brackets): Despatch 41 (9), PE SAPS 37 (8), Spring Rose 24 (7), Gardens 23 (7), NMMU Madibaz 22 (8), Harlequins 22 (9), Brumbies 19 (8), Trying Stars 19 (7), Progress 17 (9), Park 16 (9), Kruisfontein 15 (7), Crusaders 11 (8), Windvogel 6 (7), African Bombers 3 (7).