Harlequins to test Progress in season opener

Mkhululi Ndamase

Harlequins will look to start their Eastern Cape Super 12 club rugby title defence on a high when they lock horns with Progress in a repeat of last season’s final.

If the March 23 final is anything to go by, fans will be treated to a good display of running rugby at the Uitenhage Central Fields in the pick of the opening weekend’s games tomorrow.
They are in Group B. Quins narrowly edged the Uitenhage outfit 26-24 to claim the victory and the bragging rights against their arch-rivals in a game that had everything you would expect in a final.

Progress, on the other hand, will look for revenge after a late Ervan Williams penalty for the northern areas side stole the victory from right under their noses.

Progress had been leading 24-23 with a few minutes left on the clock when Williams shattered their dreams.

Another showdown which is expected to produce fireworks will be that of last year’s bronze medalists, East London Police, when they host Winter Rose in a repeat of last year’s third-place play-off.

The humiliation will be fresh in the minds of Rose players and they go into the encounter as underdogs and wounded lions following the 46-6 thrashing they received from the men in blue.

But Rose will know their opponents can be beaten as they managed a narrow 14-9 victory during the group stages last season.

Caltex Crusaders will travel to Queenstown to face Old Collegians. Even playing away, the Port Elizabeth side should comfortably come back with a victory because they are seasoned campaigners. In Group A, African Bombers will welcome Kruisfontein in Zwide.

With the backing of their lively fans, Bombers will look to take full advantage of their 16th man in the stands.

The Zwide side were let down by their kickers last season – resulting in them losing games they should have won.

But Kruisfontein are no pushovers and will give their all from the first to the last minute. They are capable of beating any team.
Gardens, who had an average season last year, will look to make an example of newcomers Walter Sisulu University in Rosedale.

WSU showed glimpses of brilliance when they campaigned in the Varsity Cup last season but their players’ small stature could prove to be their achilles heel against the bullish Gardens.

With all their experience in the competition, the Uitenhage club should put the students to the sword.

Cambridge will host Buffaloes in East London. Kick-off is at 3.30pm in all the games.