Preview: Currie Cup, Round Four
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:27
The pools within the Currie Cup have become apparent in Round Four as everyone gets ready to replay their opponents from two weeks ago.
The pools within the Currie Cup have become apparent in Round Four as everyone gets ready to replay their opponents from two weeks ago.
With the eight team expansion, the fixtures list sees the Pumas, Sharks, Griquas and Free State Cheetahs falling into one unofficial pool while the Blue Bull, Golden Lions, Western Province and Eastern Province Kings fall in the other.
Round Four sees an opportunity for many teams to try and get revenge for some heavy defeats that will still be fresh in the mind having only been played out a fortnight ago.
It all begins on Friday when the Pumas get the chance to host the Sharks in fortress Mbombela where they are undefeated - but then again, the Sharks are undefeated through three rounds and the costal boys came out 34-14 two-weeks ago.
On Saturday, the hinterland neighbours, Griquas and Cheetahs, will replay their Round Two match that saw the men from the Free State come up 34-27 victors while the Griquas still search for that elusive first win.
In arguably the biggest game of the weekend the Bulls will hope that home ground advantage will stem the Western province juggernaut that ravaged the Pretoria-based team 41-17 in Cape Town earlier in the season.
Finally, the weekend rounds off with the Kings hosting the Lions who inflicted the biggest defeat of the campaign when they routed EP 60-19 at Ellis Park a fortnight ago.
Friday, August 29
Pumas v Sharks
(Mbombela Stadium, Neslpruit - Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT))
Out of all the revenge matches out there this weekend, this one promises to be a close encounter.
The Pumas have surprised many with their doggedness in their game plan, an abrasive pack of forwards and a well drilled backline that excels in the set pieces seems to be a winning formula for coach Jimmy Stonehouse.
Having only slipped up once - against the Sharks, 17-34 in Round Two, The Pumas will feel positive about their chances as they host the Costal boys this time round.
The Pumas may be undefeated at home, but the Sharks are undefeated over all three rounds and although none of their performances have been convincing, they are still one of the favourites.
The Sharks have made a change at No.9 with Conrad Hoffman making a return to Durban in his first start of the season.
JC Astle also returns for the injured Marco Wentzel.
The Pumas have been forced into three changes, all in the backline, but it sees the exciting Rosco Spekman starting on the wing for Ruwellyn Isbell.
Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson has revealed that the Pumas will definitely be a force, but he also feels the recent match between the two will mean some common-knowlege for both teams.
"The Pumas have done very well, they’re a strong prospect at home and undefeated in Nelspruit,” Macleod-Henderson pointed out.
“They had another good win on the weekend against Griquas and they rolled Free State over in the first round of the competition, also at Mbombela Stadium, so we know it’s not going to be easy.”
“There are things they would have learnt about us from our first round game, and things we will recall from their game,” he explains.
“Our drive worked very well against them, so they will probably put some work into trying to stop that.
"We played with some nice width and created some opportunities on the outside, so they will be looking to shore up the drive and defensively make sure there are no opportunities on the outside.”
Prediction: A lot has been made about the fact that the Pumas are undefeated at Mbombela, but with all that being said - it is more impressive that the Sharks are undefeated - home and away. What is more troubling for the Pumas is that the Sharks have managed to remain undefeated without hitting their full stride. The men from Durban have not been impressive as yet and one can only feel that it is a matter of time before they start to look polished with that deadly backline. It could very well be this weekend with the Sharks winning by 10 points or more.
Pumas: 15 John-Wessel Bell, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 Jacobus Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Spekman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Dylon Frylinck, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Swys du Toit, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Juan-Claude Roos, 22 Coenraad van Wyk.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 JC Astle, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Lionel Cronjé.
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff
Saturday, August 30
Griquas v Cheetahs
(GWK Park, Kimberley - Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT))
Griquas are steadily running out of time to get this first win. The Cheetahs, for a second time around, at home, may provide that key.
If anyone knows how things are run in Bloemfontein and the Cheetahs systems, it is Griquas head coach Hawies Fourie - having coached the Cheetahs Super Rugby team.
Fourie and his men came agonisingly close in Round Two in Bloemfontein where it was a mere seven points that separated them against the struggling Cheetahs team.
That being said, the Cheetahs can still be classified as a struggling team, but for that win, the men from Bloemfontein have been unable to overcome the Sharks or Pumas.
On the team sheet he Cheetahs have been able to remain fairly consistent in selection this week with young loose forward Henco Venter coming in at lock for the injured Carl Wegner.
The Griquas have also stuck with a consistent team with the only changes coming on the bench with the props rotating.
Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan has also made mention of the difficulty of playing on the hard ground of GWK Park.
"We made some mistakes against the Sharks - it is a sign of a new team - but we need to rectify those against Griquas. They are going to be a hard nut to crack at home," Duncan said.
Prediction: Not an easy one to call with both of these teams really struggling. The Cheetahs are a 'new' team with a new coaching staff - but they do seem to be finding their feet better than the Griquas who look slightly out of sorts after getting a reprieve in the Currie Cup when it was extended to eight teams. You have to feel that the Griquas are due for a fantastic performance, but it can also be said that the Cheetahs will want to carry on improving after beating the Griquas in Round Two. Cheetahs by five.
Griquas: 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Wayne Stevens (captain), 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Ruaan Lerm, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Janro Van Niekerk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Abraham Griesel, 21 Gideon la Grange, 22 Rocco Jansen.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Henco Venter, 3 Dolph Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Kevin Stevens.
Replacements: 16 AJ Le Roux, 17 George Marich, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 JP du Plessis
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
Bulls v Western Province
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT))
Another North-South derby!
Hopefully, for the neutral, this one proves to be more of a classical, hard-fought derby than the 41-17 routing we saw at Newlands a few weeks ago.
Western Province have emerged, after three rounds, to be the front runners in the competition after they put away the Lions, the then team to beat, 27-14 last weekend.
It seems that at Newlands, things are starting to come right as coach Allister Coetzee balances his classically solid defence with an exciting attacking edge - all while being able to maintain consistency in selection.
On the other side of the country, Frans Ludeke has been less lucky. The Bulls have looked poor in a competition they are traditionally a powerhouse of.
The Bulls managed to sneak a win against the Kings last weekend (30-25), but it is the 82 points that Province and the Lions put over the Bulls that speaks volumes about their season.
For WP coach Coetzee, the matter of the North-South derby is still a massive occasion for him.
"We will respect any team we play against and it doesn't get much bigger than playing against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld - no matter what happened last time between us," said Coetzee.
"The Bulls did well to beat the EP Kings.
"Don't look at the score line, they've come off a difficult few weeks and it was a big and valuable win for them."
Coetzee has made one big call this week in his selection by playing usual fullback Jaco Taute at inside centre. Taute has played at the highest level in this position and in that regard Coetzee is fortunate to have such a wealth of talent to call on.
For Ludeke, he has opted to go for an experienced pack and a young and exciting backline that he feels will be competitive.
"We have an experienced pack that will hold their own and the new faces in the backs are all full of attacking potential," Ludeke said.
"No doubt that WP is playing very well and outplayed us in Cape Town a couple of weeks back, but we have turned the corner since then, I believe.
"We will be up against it, but there is no reason why we cannot be very competitive."
Prediction: It is true that the Bulls are starting to look better after that win against the Kings - it may not have been impressive, but it was a start. Ludeke has started trusting some of his more exciting options in William Small-Smith and Jesse Kriel while balancing them with the experience in the pack. However, their improvements look minuscule in comparison to the strides that Province have made - and continue to make. There seems to be no slowing Province and you can expect them to come out 10 point winners.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Ryan Nell.
Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Pat Howard.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Cobus Wessels
TMO: Willie Vos
EP Kings v Lions
(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth - Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT))
Things just don't seem to be getting easier for the Kings.
Having been ravaged by the Lions (60-19) and Province (35-16) Carlos Spencer and his men could not even overcome a struggling Bulls - albeit at Loftus.
They now face off against an opposition that managed to push past 60 points on them in Round Two again and with Spencer admitting that his teams attitude is not right, it could be another long night.
The Lions will be hurting after succumbing to Province in Cape Town, but it would seem that that loss would probably fire them up even more - especially with their inspirational captain, Warren Whiteley returning.
Lions coach Johann Ackermann has been forthright about his experiment with Nicolaas Hanekom at flyhalf - and with the selection of Andries Coetzee in the No.10 jumper this week it would seem that it was a failed experiment.
"Last week was a unique situation, in that we experimented with Stokkies [Nicolaas Hanekom] at flyhalf," the Lions coach said.
"We threw him in at the deep end and he did some good things at times attacking the line with force but the reality is that he had a very young [Under-20] centre next to him and they had to make a lot of the calls.
"That was a rough learning curve for us, hopefully this weekend our decision-making will improve [with Andries Coetzee at flyhalf] and look after our possession much better.
For the Kings, they are without captain Luke Watson for the clash and still have to wait on the fitness of a few players who have been bracketed depending if they come through training or not.
Spencer believes that his team made strides against the Bulls (coming within five points), but against the Lions it will be a different ball game - even if it is at home.
Prediction: Life has not been easy for the Kings after their 12 years in the top-tier rugby wilderness, they remain without a win. On the other hand the Lions have impressed by bringing through their Super Rugby form which saw them hit a new record of seven wins in a season. It has to be felt that this time around, against the Lions, at home - it will be just as difficult for the Kings, especially with the concerns over players an the lack of a captain. Lions by 15+.
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke / Siyanda Grey, 13 Tim Whitehead / Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Bennie Geldenhuys Uys.
Replacements: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Siyanda Grey / Dwayne Jenner, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Lionel Mapoe (captain), 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Andries Coetzee, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacments: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Ricky Schroeder, 22 Howard Mnisi.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Francois Pretorius, Lusanda Jam
TMO: Jason Jaftha