Sunday, May 22, 2022

Top teams seal their places in the rugby league semi finals

Two of Botswana’s top rugby giants, the Gaborone Hogs and the University of Botswana Rhinos, have all but sealed their top two spots in the league and avoided each other in the upcoming Cup Simi Finals. Hogs, who are the defending league champions, continued their unbeaten streak this season as they easily disposed of Ghetto Sharks 41-7 to cement their place at the summit of the log.

The win ended the Sharks’ unbeaten run in the league while also ensuring that the Hogs will play their semi-final at home against the team that will come fourth in the log standings.

Against the Sharks, the Hogs were very clinical as they asserted themselves in the game early on. The team raced to a 24 ÔÇô 0 lead in the first half of the encounter, thanks to their four tries and two conversions. While many would have predicted a tough match between the two sides, which were unbeaten in the league, the match proved a one sided affair as the Hogs enjoyed more territorial advantage, pinning the Sharks to their own side of the pitch.

As has been the case in all their games this season, the Hogs won their game from the front where their solid backline out muscled and won almost all the scrimmages and the line outs.

Despite trying to put up a fight in the second half, it was too little too late as the Hogs raced on to comprehensively win the game by 41 ÔÇô 7, earning themselves a bonus point in the process to take their league points to an unassailable 34.

Earlier on, UB Rhinos ensured they avoided any clash with the Hogs in the semi-finals as they beat their offshoots White Rhinos 24 ÔÇô 8 to cement their second spot in the league log.

The UB Rhinos, who were the runner ups to the Hogs last season, will now have to battle it out with whoever comes third between the Sharks and BDF Cheetahs to earn a place in the finals. Both the Sharks and the Cheetahs have also sealed their places in the semi finals but will still have to fight hard to decide which one will come third and avoid facing the Hogs juggernaut in the semi finals.

Cheetahs, who are currently placed fourth on the log, are only four points behind third-placed Sharks but have two games in hand while the latter have only one game left to play. A win in both games will ensure the Cheetahs leap frog the Sharks into third place and end up facing the UB Rhinos in the semi-finals.

For the first time in two years, this season’s semi finals will be without one of the country’s most notable club, Selebi Phikwe-based EMG Gunners. The team, who won the league in 2009, have found the going very tough this season after losing their coach, Neal Gouws, who also doubled up as the national rugby team coach. Ever since his departure, Gunners have struggled to keep pace with the top teams and now find themselves in fifth place on the log having now played all their season matches. Gunners will now have to play in the second tier Shield Cup semi – finals.

Both the league cup semi-finals and the Shield cup semi finals are expected to be played in July.

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