With the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Western Province having already booked their places in the last four of the U21 Cup, it was a three-way fight between the Lions, Leopards and Cell C Sharks for the remaining two semi-final spots.
The Lions clinched third spot on the final standings, behind defending champions the Vodacom Bulls and second-placed DHL Stormers, courtesy of their 36-28 away triumph over the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The Jozi side outscored their Free State hosts by five tries to three and were already 24-7 in front at the break, with fullback Sethaba Mokoena scoring two tries for the winning side.
Unfortunately for the Leopards, they couldn’t make home ground advantage count as they went down 13-10 to the Cell C Sharks in Potchefstroom on the same day. The Leopards had a 10-6 advantage at the break, which included a penalty try and a penalty goal, while they conceded two successful penalty goals.
The black and white jerseys defended superbly in the second half to shut out the home side whilst also scoring that important converted winning try to take the match points.
However, the KwaZulu-Natalians missed out on a spot in the top four due to an inferior points' difference to the Leopards.
So, following the conclusion of regulation fixtures, the Vodacom Bulls finished first on 21 points, with DHL WP finished second and two points adrift, and their tally of 19 points also handed them a home semi-final, while the Lions claimed third spot with their total of 14 league points.
Interestingly, the Leopards and Cell C Sharks both finished on 10 league points, however the team from Potchefstroom finished with a marginal better points difference (-30) compared to the Durbanites (-31), meaning the Leopards are placed fourth place on the league table.
SA Rugby U21 Shield Final
The Griffons will host the Valke in the SA Rugby U21 Shield Final in Welkom this coming Saturday after the Northern Free State side beat Eastern Province 52-10 in their last regulation fixture over the weekend.
As a result of their comprehensive home win over the visitors from the Eastern Cape, the Griffons were able to finish the round-robin phase unbeaten with five wins.
The Valke booked their spot in the Shield Final following their 60-13 demolition of the SWD in Brakpan, thereby securing second spot in the log and a spot in the Final on Saturday 15 October.
SA Rugby U21 Cup Results (Round 5):
Leopards 10, Cell C Sharks 13
Toyota Cheetahs 28, Lions 36
Semi-final fixtures (Saturday, 15 October - times TBC):
Vodacom Bulls vs Leopards (Pretoria)
DHL Western Province vs Leopards (Cape Town)
SA Rugby U21 Shield Results (Round 5):
Griffons 52, Eastern Province 10
Valke 60, SWD 13
Shield Final (Saturday, 15 October):
14h00: Griffons vs Valke (Welkom)