The Currie Cup and MTN 8 semi-finals get underway on a weekend that is sure to provide plenty for us to cover in our wrap of the latest sports news and fixtures from across SA and the world.
Latest sports news and fixtures today, Saturday 31 August
Springboks arrive in Japan
The Springboks said “thank you, South Africa” as they departed from OR Tambo International Airport for the ninth Rugby World Cup on Friday.
Director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, a squad of 31 players and 20 management headed to Japan before a cheering crowd of approximately 2000 people after a week of media, public and private engagements in Johannesburg.
The Boks arrive in Japan late on Saturday after a 25-hour flight.
Currie Cup semifinals
Golden Lions vs Griquas, in Johannesburg, 14:00
The last time Griquas played in the Currie Cup final was back in 1970 and they won that match 11-9 against the Blue Bulls (then known as Northern Transvaal), and that is expected to be a huge motivational force for the team going into the clash.
The home side, meanwhile, will be hunting their first final appearance since 2015. To do that, the men from Jozi will have to overturn their home-ground odds.
The Golden Lions have won only one of their three games at Ellis Park this season, which will motivate them to put up a good show in front of their home crowd, but Griquas will have enough motivation of their own as their last Currie Cup victory in Johannesburg in 2012.
Free State Cheetahs vs Sharks in Bloemfontein, 17:00
In Bloemfontein, the Free State Cheetahs will go in search of their first final berth since 2016, while defending champions, the Sharks, will have their sights on their third consecutive appearance in the final when the teams meet in their semi-final.
The last time they crossed paths, the Sharks won by a narrow seven points in Durban. Interestingly, the KwaZulu-Natalians last suffered a defeat against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in 2013, and while this is expected to serve as inspiration for the visitors, it will also fuel the Free Staters’ motivation to win.
The hosts have been more effective on attack this season, with 40 tries scored to 26 by the Sharks, but they have been fairly closely matched on defence, with the home side conceding 24 points fewer in their six matches this season.
MTN 8 semifinals first leg
Polokwane City vs Highlands Park, Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, 15:00.
Polokwane City head into their clash with Highlands Park on a high after a terrific start to the season for the underdogs with big dreams.
Both clubs have reached this stage for the first time ever, and have a chance to gain the ascendancy as they look to take a step further in the competition.
The visitors are the only debutants in the tournament left standing, having qualified after sneaking into the top eight in the league standings last season.
Doubles expert Raven Klaasen and his partner Michael Venus began another Grand Slam campaign against the French duo of Gilles Simon and Adrian Mannarino at Flushing Meadow.
Latest sports news
Springbok Aphiwe Dyantyi has tested positive for a banned substance. The South Africa Institute for Drug Free Sport found anabolic substances in both his A and B samples from a test conducted in June.
Eben Etzebeth met with the Human Rights Commission regarding a complaint against the Springbok, who is alleged to have been involved in a racially lotivated assault. The allegations against him are not that he was directly involved but rather that he did nothing to stop acquaintances from assualting a homeless man.
Team SA took another four medals in the water as the Canoeists bagged more gold at the African Games in Rabat.
The SA Golf Proteas girls team claimed a share of the lead in the amateur Astor Trophy being played in Canada.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt feels that Felix Jones joining the Springboks World Cup staff is a blow to his side