Important wins for Boland and the EP Kings kept their playoff hopes alive in a fascinating round eight of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, while yet another home defeat saw the Leopards crash out of contention in a weekend packed with tries and action.
With matches played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, each day delivered a telling result that impacted on the overall standings in the North, Central and South Sections.
In the North section, it has become a three horse race with one round left of regulation play, with the Golden Lions, Blue Bulls and Pumas all in contention for a playoff spot. The Golden Lions delivered an impressive 96-27 win over the Valke in Kempton Park, while the Pumas travelled to Namibia for a solid 42-8 win over the Welwitschias.
With the Golden Lions XV hosting the Blue Bulls at Orlando Stadium on Friday, the Pumas need to win at home against the Valke and hope the home side wins in Soweto for them to sneak into second spot.
The Central Section also became a three horse race when the Leopards dropped a 33-17 result to the Griffons in Potchefstroom. Griquas and the Sharks XV, who played to a 28-all draw on Thursday, are still in the top two positions, with the Free State XV making a late dash. They face the Sharks XV on Saturday in Bloemfontein in what could be a straight knock-out match.
The South Section, where Western Province already secured top spot, came alive with the EP Kings beating Border 43-38 in East London on Thursday and the Boland Cavaliers outplaying SWD Eagles 51-10 in Malmesbury.
Border finished their matches and will look at the clash between Boland and EP to see whether they will end regular play with a second placed log position.
A summary of the weekend's results and points' scorers:
Griquas 28 (14), Sharks XV 28 (13)
Griquas 28 - Tries: Renier Botha (2), AJ le Roux, Jason Fraser. Conversions: Andre Swarts (3), George Whitehead.
Sharks XV 28 - Tries: Hyron Andrews, S'bura Sithole, Ilunga Mukedi, Garth April. Conversions: Garth April. Penalties: Garth April (2).
Leopards 17 (12), Down Touch Griffons 33 (19)
Leopards - Tries: Jimmy Mpailane, HP Swart, Tapiwe Mafura. Conversion: Gerhard Nortier
Griffons - Tries: Barend Potgieter, Thato Mavundla, Jasper Wiese, CJ Coetzee, Duan Pretorius. Conversions: Duan Pretorius (4).
Welwitschias 8 (0), Pumas 42 (21)
Welwitschias - Try: Dirk von Weidts. Penalty: Winmar Rust.
Pumas - Tries: Emile Temperman, Jean-Paul Lewis, Carel Greeff (2), Francois Kleinhans, Jannie Stander, Conversions: Kobus Marais (3), Sias Ebersohn (3).
Valke 27 (27), Golden Lions 96 (35)
Valke - Tries: Reg Muller, Maphutha Dolo (2), Marco Klopper. Conversions: Christian Rust (3). Penalty: Rust.
Golden Lions XV - Tries: Fabian Booysen, Armand van der Merwe (2), Dillion Smit, Jano Venter (2), Jacques Nel, Marvin Orie, Anthony Volmink (3), Michael Tambwe, Hacjivah Dayimani, Jan-Louis la Grange. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (13).
Boland Cavaliers 51 (22) SWD Eagles 10 (10)
Boland Cavaliers - Tries: Elgar Watts (2), Sergio Torrens, Clinton Theron, Ludio Williams, Charles Mayeza, Edwin Sass, Zandre Jordaan. Conversions: Divan Nel (3), Adriaan Carelse. Penalties: Nel.
SWD Eagles - Try: Dillin Snel. Conversion: Leighton Eksteen. Penalty: Eksteen.
Border Bulldogs 38 (28), Eastern Province 43 (28)
Border Bulldogs - Tries: Lelethu Gcilithsane (2), Sonwabiso Mqalo, Michael Makase, Oliver Zono. Conversions: Oliver Zono (5). Penalty: Oliver Zono.
Eastern Province Kings - Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Neil Maritz, Tango Balekile, Sonwabo Majola, Stefan Willemse, Brandon Brown. Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet (4), Michael Brink; Penalty: Pieter-Steyn de Wet.