Currie Cup, Round two - teams and predictions
FRIDAY PREVIEW: There’s simply nothing like a good old North-South derby to get the South African rugby fraternity going.
And this Friday will be no different, as the Bulls host the Western Province at Loftus Versfeld in a Currie Cup Round Two fixture.
Most non-traditionalist will label the match as another outdated event given the two team’s opposite forms.
However, for the traditionalist and especially for the team’s respective supporters, this fixture between the two most successful teams in Currie Cup history still holds weight and getting a good result means bragging rights until the next meeting.
“We see the Bulls as our biggest rivalry. ” WP head coach John Dobson said about the significance of the fixture.
“The North-South derby stretch back as far as 80 odd years and we have done a great job in the last few years restoking it.
“It does go through cycles where it’s the Sharks and Bulls, or us and the Sharks, but personally we regard them [Bulls] as our biggest rivalry.
“I think there is just something about the light blue jersey against the white and blue stripes that is just a beautiful sight.”
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The WP head to Pretoria with loads of confidence given their recent winning run over their arch-rivals, coupled with their 44-28 win over the Lions in Round one.
In contrast, the Bulls are desperate following their 15-63 loss to Pumas at Loftus last week.
Despite the favourites tag, Dobson knows it will be far from easy against the Bulls.
“How the Pumas played was extraordinary, but it is not going to happen to the Bulls team again. They are far too good,” Dobson said.
Coaching the team in his first North-South derby, Edgar Marutlulle said he expects a really tough challenge.
“They are obviously one of the better teams at the moment and it looks like they will bring a really strong side to the game.
“It is always competition between the Bulls and Western Province.
“They have a good team and we have a good team so we will have to see what happens on Friday.”
Fronting the media alongside Marutlulle was Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White, who said the North-South derby is an opportunity to rectify their opening defeat.
“We are disappointed with our performance last week,” White said.
“I saw Jimmy Stonehouse’s [Pumas coach] face and he also realized that everything went their way, however, this weekend is a chance for us to see how we work through this pressure.
“North v South is always a big game for us, but we are still alive in three competitions [Currie Cup, United Rugby Championship and Championship] so losing one game does not mean we are done.
“People will say there is huge pressure but we had a good run and now we have a little pressure. Friday is just another game where we have to make sure we play well.
“We disappointed our supporters but we have a chance to rectify it at home.”
The catfight in Nelspruit
In the other fixture, the Lions travel to Nelspruit to face Pumas.
The defending champions made a big statement in their opening scoring nine tries against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
It will be a very challenging trip for the Lions, who opened their Currie Cup campaign with a defeat.
“The Pumas are a very good side, they are the Currie Cup champions and I don’t think they really have a weakness at the moment,” Lions forwards coach Wessel Roux said.
“They are balanced and well-coached, very physical.
“From a forward perspective, they scrum well, have a good line-out system and are very good at creating maul opportunities and is also very disruptive when you try to maul against them.”
#TeamAnnouncement: @pumasrugbyunion tweak team for @LionsRugbyCo clash #rugby #news @TheCurrieCup https://t.co/0chpO7Gtpu
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) March 16, 2023
Roux admitted there is no elaborate plan to combat the Pumas’ elusive attack but has urged his team to focus on their own game plan.
“We have to focus on us. Keep only possession and respect the ball. We have to build phases and stay true to our attacking plan.
“The Pumas like to play a high pace game and offload a lot, but we just have to focus on ourselves and keep the ball.”
The Pumas are firm favourites as they have won four out of the last five meetings between the two sides, including both their fixtures played last season.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse said it will certainly be nice playing in front of the home crowd at the Mbombela Stadium.
“I know the spectators expect us to produce a similar result to last week against the Bulls, however, we can only play as much as the opposition allows us.
“We want to score tries and see how many log points we can get.
“I think our main goal is to get points in each game and obviously we want to win with five points log points.
Swifing his focus to the Lions, Stonehouse said he expects a very determined Lions team.
“The Lions have a very good scrumhalf, they play an expansive brand of rugby and they will certainly field some United Rugby Championship players.”
#TeamAnnouncement: @LionsRugbyCo to field @pumasrugbyunion‘s old friend #rugby #news @TheCurrieCup https://t.co/WqULN4x9sC
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) March 16, 2023
All of Friday’s teams and predictions follow below …
Friday, March 17
Pumas v Lions
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Pumas by 15 points
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Lundi Msenge, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Andre Fouché, 5 Shane Kirkwood (captain), 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Njabulo Gumede, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Etienne Janeke, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Malembe Mpofu, 20 Ruwald van der Merwe, 21 Chriswill September, 22 Ethan Fisher
23 Stefan Coetzee.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Rynhardt Jonker, 12 Tyler Bocks, 11 Boldwin Hansen, 10 Vaughan Isaacs, 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Travis Gordon (captain), 7 Ruan Delport, 6 Jaron Cairns, 5 Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Rhynardt Runsburger.
Replacements: 16 Morne Brandon, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Kabous Bezuidenhout, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Sibusiso Sangwen, 22 Nico Steyn, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Quinton Immelman
Bulls v Western Province
( Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.05; 17.05 GMT)
@rugby365com: Western Province by five points
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Quewin Nortje, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Harold Vorster,, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johann Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Simphiwe Matanzima, 17 Bismarck du Plessis, 18 Francois Kloppers, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Stedman Gans
Western Province: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 11 Ruhan Nel, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Keke Morabe, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Connor Evans, 4 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Andre-Hugo Venter, 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Dylan de Leeuw, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Bruce Sherwood.
Referee: Griffin Colby
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Christie du Preez