Currie Cup, Round two - teams and predictions
SUNDAY PREVIEWS: Sharks Currie Cup coach Joey Mongalo has thrown down the gauntlet to his team, ahead of their Round Two trip to Kimberley.
With a new head coach of the franchise – for United Rugby Championship and European Cup competitions – to be confirmed soon, Mongalo effectively told the players that they are ‘on trial’ against Griquas.
“The only time the [new] coach will be able to judge them, is when they play,” the Currie Cup mentor told a media briefing on Friday.
“Hopefully that is motivation enough,” he said, adding: “They must ensure they are in the good books of whoever takes over.”
Turning to the game, he admitted it is not the most ‘comfortable’ venue for the men from Durban.
Having never won, as a coach, in Kimberley, Mongalo leaned on former Griquas native Eduan Keyter to get some insights into the psyche of the home team and what makes it so difficult to overcome the Northern Cape outfit at the iconic home venue.
“I hope that what he told them about the level of their motivation will ensure our guys are alert to the enormity of the challenge.”
The numerous changes – 10 in all – means cohesion might be lacking, at least in the opening half.
And they are up against what the coach regards as the “most youthful” Griquas side in a long time.
“They have a pretty good allround game,” Mongalo said, adding: “They are a solid defensive unit as well.
“I won’t be sleeping well before Sunday, as they will challenge us and I know exactly what is coming.”
The other challenge is the expected 34°C heat in a dry Kimberley – meaning dehydration during the game will be vital.
(Article continues below Mongalo video interview …)
Griquas coach Pieter Bergh said, having got the ‘rust’ out of the system with last week’s opening loss to the Cheetahs, he hopes his team will begin to settle into the rhythm that took them to the Final in 2022.
The coach pointed out that in recent years the Sharks won more in Kimberley and Griquas won more often in Durban, in a very interesting and entertaining rivalry.
With the Sharks having loaded their team with some URC quality players, Bergh has no doubt about the enormity of the challenge.
That also adds to one of Griquas’ biggest issues coming out of last week’s loss – the physicality of players with experience of playing in European competitions.
“The South African teams learnt a lot from the URC, especially at the breakdown,” Bergh said.
“The challenge for us, against the Sharks, is the breakdown – especially with guys like Dylan Richardson and James Venter.
“Then, also, the kicking game – the other area where we fell short against the Cheetahs.
“We have to be aware of that against the Sharks, who kicked 38 times against the Griffons last week.”
* In Welkom, in the early match on Sunday, the Cheetahs are expecting a ‘physical’ confrontation from their Central Unions rivals, the Griffons.
“The Griffons has a physical team – especially their centres – and a good kicking game,” Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said.
“The most important thing will be to be mentally switched on.”
With their Challenge Cup last 16 trip to Toulon just a fortnight away, this game is a vital part of their preparations for their return to Europe.
“We want to build on last week,” he said of their opening round win over Griquas.
“The most important aspect is to be mentally in the right space.
“We haven’t played our best rugby yet
“So there’s more to come, and we want to improve in every game we play.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement, especially on attack.”
The coach added that he is satisfied with his set pieces, defence and physicality.
Griffons coach Jacques Juries admitted that his team is ‘up against it’, despite having a home ground advantage.
“They would have a look at our weaknesses,” he said about last week’s Round One loss to the Sharks.
He added that the Cheetahs’ kicking game is a huge threat – with the likes of Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar able to get good distance with their out-of-hand kicking.
“We are looking forward to this Free State derby,” Juries said, adding: “We will look to entertain the people of Welkom with the quality of our game in our first Currie Cup home game.”
All Sunday’s teams and predictions are below ...
Sunday, March 19
Griffons v Cheetahs
(North-West Stadium, Welkom – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by 17 points
Griffons: 15 Domenic Smit, 14 Duren Hoffman, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Marquit September, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Duan Pretorius, 9 Jaywinn Juries, 8 Sokhuphumla Xakalashe, 7 Jean Pretorius, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Michael Benadie, 4 Jaco Willemse, 3 Doctor Booysen, 2 Dandre Delport, 1 Stephan De Jager.
Replacements: 16 Hendrik Van Schoor, 17 Xolani Jacobs, 18 Buhle Nojekwa, 19 Wikus Nieuwenhuis, 20 Thato Mavundla, 21 Richman Gora, 22 Robbie Petzer, 23 Keanu Vers.
Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Friedle Olivier, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Coenraad Janse van Vuuren, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Alulutho Tshakweni, 17 Louis van der Westhuizen, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Cohen Jasper.
Referee: Paul Mente
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: Christie du Preez
Griquas v Sharks
(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 16.05; 14.05 GMT)
@rugby365com: Sharks by seven points
Griquas: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Zander du Plessis, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Lubabalo Dobela, 9 Johan Mulder, 8 Carl Els, 7 Stephan Smit (captain), 6 Niel Otto, 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Albert Liebenberg, 3 Junior Banda, 2 Gustav du Rand, 1 Kudzwai Dube.
Replacements: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Cebo Dlamini, 19 Janco Venter, 20 Hanru Sirgel (captain), 21 Bobby Alexander, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Eddie Fouche.
Sharks: 15 Thaakir Abrahams, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Murray Koster (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Marnus Potgieter, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Dylan Richardson, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Athenkosi Khethani, 20 Marco de Witt, 21 Damon Royle, 22 Bradley Davids, 23 Lionel Cronje.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: Ben Crouse