The Leopards and Boland Kavaliers will contest their third Absa Currie Cup First Division final in six seasons when they meet at OlÃ«n Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The two form teams of the competition comfortably won last week’s semi-finals. The Leopards beat the Mighty Elephants 63-13 to secure a home final, whilst Boland saw off the SWD Eagles 38-27.
Home advantage will be critical for the Leopards as they go in search of their first-ever First Division title. The Kavaliers, who have won the title on three occasions, have triumphed in both of the previous First Division finals between them – in 2001 they won 41-27 in Wellington and in 2003 they were 27-25 winners in Potchefstroom. Their third title was won against the Border Bulldogs in 2004.
Importantly for the Leopards, the 2003 final win was the Kavaliers last Absa Currie Cup victory in Potchefstroom. In 2004, the Leopards sneaked in 31-28 and in 2005 they won 50-47 continuing a trend of close encounters between the two.
2006 has been no different with the teams drawing 22-all in Potchefstroom, a match in which Boland scored a try after the final hooter, and the Kavaliers securing a narrow 27-24 win in Wellington, where the Leopards scored a late try to secure a bonus point.
Boland have won eight of the previous 12 matches between them since 2001 while things could not be more equal over their last five meetings where they have each won twice and one game has been drawn.
Results have been so close between them since 2001 that Boland’s average score over the previous 12 matches is 29.6 while the Leopards average is 26.9.
Both sides have only lost once this season and recent results suggest that they are in good form. As to how much can be read into the Kavaliers shock loss against the Griffons two weeks back is up for debate.