The Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls will be facing the two unbeaten sides in the Vodacom Cup this year, the Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province, when the four remaining teams face off in the semi-finals this weekend.
Of these four, it’s only the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013, that haven’t won the Vodacom Cup. The Lowvelders caused an upset last weekend when they eliminated the defending champions, GWK Griquas, in their quarter-final in Kimberley.
The Xerox Golden Lions last won the last of their five Vodacom Cup titles in 2013, the three-time champion Vodacom Blue Bulls’ last success was in 2010 and DHL Western Province lifted the trophy for the first and only time in 2012.
There will be extra incentive for DHL Western Province when they host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the second semi-final on Saturday afternoon as they will host the final the next weekend should they progress.
However, should the Capetonians lose their first match of the season, the highest-placed team from the North Section will host the final.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls hold the upper hand in knock-out contests between these traditional rivals – they won both (in 2010 by 17-6 in Pretoria and in 2009 by 36-16, also at home).
In fact, the last time DHL Western Province hosted the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup in Cape Town, was way back in 2001, with the visitors winning easily by 41-10.
In total, they’ve met nine times with the Vodacom Bulls winning six and DHL Western Province three. The Capetonians won the last encounter between these sides, by 16-8 in Pretoria in 2011.
The first semi-final is on Friday afternoon at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg between the Xerox Golden Lions and the Steval Pumas.
When they met earlier this year, the Johannesburgers won 24-16 in Nelspruit, outscoring the Steval Pumas by three tries to one. It was the 16th time these two sides had met in the Vodacom Cup, with the Lowvelders having won nine time and the Xerox Golden Lions six.
However, the last five matches between the Xerox Golden Lions and the Steval Pumas were won by the visiting team. This includes the last play-off encounter between these sides, when the Gautengers comfortably clinched the final in 2013 by 42-28 in Nelspruit.
So while the Xerox Golden Lions should be favourites to retain their unbeaten record in 2015, recent history dictates that they should not underestimate the Steval Pumas.
Vodacom Cup – Historic performances
Xerox Golden Lions
Best performance: Champions in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2013
Performance in 2014: Runners-up (lost to GWK Griquas in the Final, 30-6)
DHL Western Province
Best performance: Champions in 2012
Performance in 2014: Lost in quarter-finals (13-8 to Steval Pumas)
Vodacom Blue Bulls
Best performance: Champions in 2001, 2008 and 2010
Performance in 2014: Lost in semi-finals (16-15 to Xerox Golden Lions)
Best performance: Runners-up in 2013
Performance in 2014: Lost in semi-finals (15-14 to GWK Griquas)
Friday, 22 May
Xerox Golden Lions v Steval Pumas
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Francois Pretorius
• Live on SuperSport 1 and CSN
Saturday, 23 May
DHL Western Province v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Pro Legoete
• Live on SuperSport 6
Vodacom Cup Previous Winners:
1998: GWK Griquas
1999: Xerox Golden Lions
2000: Toyota Free State Cheetahs
2001: Vodacom Blue Bulls
2002: Xerox Golden Lions
2003: Xerox Golden Lions
2004: Xerox Golden Lions
2005: GWK Griquas
2006: Hino Valke
2007: GWK Griquas
2008: Vodacom Blue Bulls
2009: GWK Griquas
2010: Vodacom Blue Bulls
2011: Pampas XV
2012: DHL Western Province
2013: Xerox Golden Lions
2014: GWK Griquas