ALL roads lead to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday when the EP Kings host the Leopards in an eagerly anticipated Absa Currie Cup First Division semifinal (4.30pm).
The Kings clinched their berth with an emphatic 38-20 win over the Border Bulldogs in East London last Friday which has set up a potentially explosive semifinal between these arch-rivals.
In the other semifinal, which will also be played on Friday, the Pumas will face a determined South Western Districts Eagles outfit in Nelspruit.
After 14 matches the rampant Pumas ended top of the table with 66 points, followed by the Kings (50 points), Leopards (44 points) and Eagles (41 points).
The Kings will not make the mistake of underestimating the firepower in the Leopards' ranks because in an earlier match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in July, the Potchefstroom outfit secured a 22-18 victory.
However, with the Super Rugby players back in harness, the Kings overturned that result when the teams met in Potchefstroom. In that game, the Kings emerged convincing 44-26 winners.
In other thrilling final round league matches at the weekend, the Leopards defeated the SWD Eagles 35-24 in George, the Pumas thumped the Falcons 67-17 in Kempton Park, and the Boland Cavaliers and Griffons played to a 26-26 draw in Wellington.
While the Pumas' victory maintained their unbeaten run in the pool stages, the Leopards' win allowed them to leap into third place on the log above the SWD Eagles to ensure their semifinal against the EP Kings.
Kings coach David Maidza is happy his team are building momentum ahead of the semifinal showdown.
With the season reaching what promises to be a dramatic climax Maidza said: "We must make sure we are at full tilt. We are the defending champions and the Kings must make sure we get to the final and defend our crown.
"We must realise there are opportunities that are being afforded to us to get back into top-tier rugby.
"The First Division is one of the platforms we must utilise. What better opportunity than to make sure we do well in this competition and send the word to everyone who is supporting us that we are here to get this union back in the top tier?"
After the victory over Border, Maidza paid tribute to his hard-working pack who he said had laid the foundation for the backline.
"We must build on this momentum heading into the semis. It's been a work in progress to get here and I can only hope we do not drop the standards in the knockouts," Maidza said.
At Outeniqua Park, three tries in the first 23 minutes by the Leopards signalled their intentions early on against the SWD Eagles.
They backed this up with another two tries in the last five minutes of the first half to seal their ninth bonus point for tries this season.
Unfortunately, for the visitors, centre Adriaan Engelbrecht had a bad day with the boot and was unable to convert a single conversion.
Friday's fixtures are: Pumas v South Western Districts Eagles (Nelspruit, 2pm). EP Kings v Leopards (Port Elizabeth, 4.30pm).