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SA Challenge Series - Teams and Predictions

BLOEMFONTEIN BATTLE: Friday has become a little bit more entertaining as the Challenge Series kicks off in Bloemfontein.


Four teams, Cheetahs, Griquas, Bulls and Emerging Ireland will be in action in two friendly matches.

The Griquas, last season’s Currie Cup finalist, will take on Emerging Ireland in teh first match at 13.45 (11.45 GMT), while Cheetahs lock horns with the Bulls at 16.15 (14.15 GMT).

Prize money of R250 000 is at stake.

“This is probably the most unique rugby tournament in the world.” Cheetahs Chief Executive Officer Ross van Reenen said.

Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie announced his team for the first encounter against the Bulls with five players making their debut.

Munier Hartzenberg, Friedle Olivier, Roelof Smit, Mzwanele Zito and Marko Janse van Rensburg are the debutants that face the Bulls.


The Cheetahs will certainly have their work cut out for them as they face a Bulls team, boasting a mix of Springbok experience and youthful exuberance, which will make the long trip to Bloemfontein.

The team that will be coached by Gert Smal, will be led by seasoned Springbok veterans Morne Steyn and Bismarck du Plessis as captain and deputy respectively.

Wandisile Simelane, who recently joined the Bulls from across the Jukskei, starts in the fullback position where he will be looking to assert himself in his newfound position.

The outside backs will be completed by the dangerous combination of Izzy Novuka and Stravino Jacobs. The latter having scored a sensational try last weekend against Edinburgh in the URC.


Hard-running Muller Uys will pack down at No.8 with Phumzile Maqondwana and Raynhard Mouton flanking down on along either side of him. Bismarck du Plessis will anchor the scrum at hooker, with experienced campaigners in Jacques van Rooyen and Dylan Smith propping it up.

Smal is also rewarding Wiehan Bezuidenhout and Juan van der Westhuizen with opportunities after sterling performances in the Carlton Cup.

“We’re excited about the challenge, as it will give our structures and depth a real test,” Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said.

“It’s going to be a busy season ahead with a few competitions overlapping, so managing 2 games this Friday will give us a good indication of what to expect.”

*Meanwhile, last season’s Currie Cup finalist Griquas have a great opportunity to challenge themselves against an international team when they take on Emerging Ireland.

Bergh has named five debutants in his starting XV.

Albert Liebenberg, who had a stint in France, will make his debut along with Namibian international No.8 Janco Venter in the pack.

In the backline, Western Province scrumhalf Bobby Alexander, former Pumas star and Currie Cup winner Eddie Fouche and Malcolm Jaer will make their first appearances for the peacock blues.

“I’m really looking forward to the match,” Bergh said.

“Think it’s the first after a very long time that the Griquas get a chance to play again international opposition.

“Obviously the Ireland team coming to South Africa shows that the Irish Rugby Union are well-structured and shows that they have clear plans. Disturbing some United Rugby Championship teams to come to South Africa and sending quite a strong team.

“It will be a difficult game for us, The Ireland team comes with great coaching experiences, but really excited.

He added: “This could be our only opportunity  to play against non-South Africa teams in the foreseeable future, so it’s obviously a great opportunity   for everyone involved.”

For the Emerging Ireland team, Max Deegan, who is a member of the touring party leadership group, will take the captain’s armband for the opening fixture..

Deegan is joined in the back row by Scott Penny and David McCann. Joe McCarthy and Tom Ahern are named at lock with Josh Wycherley, Tom Stewart and Thomas Clarkson in the front row.

Nathan Doak and Jack Crowley are named at scrumahlaf with Stewart Moore and Jamie Osborne at inside and outside centre respectively. Robert Baloucoune and Calvin Nash fill the wings with Shane Daly named at fullback.

The replacements named are Diarmuid Barron, Michael Milne, Roman Salanoa, Brian Deeny, John Hodnett, Michael McDonald, Jake Flannery and Antoine Frisch.

Friday, September 30

Griquas v Emerging Ireland
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 13.45; 12.45 Ireland time; 11.35 GMT)


@rugby365com:  Griquas by five points


Griquas: 15 Malcol Jaer, 14 Readon Oranje, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Bobby Alexander, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Werner Gouws, 6 Niel Otto (Captain), 5 Albert Liebenberg, 4 Johan Retief, 3 Justin Forwood, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Kudzwai Dube.
Replacements: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Melusi Mtabela, 18 Janu Botha, 19 Godfrey Muzanargwo, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Ashlon Davids, 24 Francois Staples, 25 Thabo Ndimande, 26 Vaughen Isaacs

Emerging Ireland: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Jamie Osbourne, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Robert Baloucoune, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Max Deegan (Captain), 7 Scott Penny, 6 David McCann, 5 Tom Ahern, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Josh Wycherley
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Roman Salanoa, 19 Brian Deeny, 20 John Hodnett, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Jake Flannery, 23 Antoine Frisch

Cheetahs v Bulls
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 16.15; 14.35 GMT)


@rugby365com:  Cheetahs by three points


Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Reinhardt Fortuin, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Friedle Olivier, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Victor Sekekete (Captain), 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Cameron Dawson
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Marne Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Marnus van der Merwe, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 David Britz, 23 Cohen Jasper

Bulls: 15 Wandisile Simelane; 14 Izzy Novuka; 13 Marco Jansen van Vuuren; 12 Chris Smit; 11 Stravino Jacobs; 10 Morne Steyn (Captain); 9 Bernard van der Linde; 8 Muller Uys; 7 Phumzile Maqondwana; 6 Raynhard Mouton; 5 Ruan Vermaak; 4 Merwe Olivier; 3 Jacques van Rooyen; 2 Bismarck du Plessis; 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl; 17 Wiehan Bezuidenhout; 18 Mhleli Dlamini; 19 Juan van der Westhuizen; 20 Abulele Ndabambi; 21 Keagan Johannes; 22 Juan Mostert; 23 FC du Plessis

Compiled By Leezil Hendricks 





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