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Currie Cup, Round Two - teams and predictions

PREVIEW: South Africa’s premier domestic competition got a timely boost with the return of a rash of Springboks – albeit for one week.

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Nine players were released this week to join their franchises – as Bok coach Rassie Erasmus look to give game time to players who will feature against Portugal next week.

Six of the nine players, all of whom will rejoin the Boks on Sunday, have Test caps.

The Sharks were the big beneficiaries – with prop Trevor Nyakane, wing Makazole Mapimpi, centre Andre Esterhuizen and fullback Aphelele Fassi all starting.

Uncapped .loose forward Phepsi Buthelezi will also start, while Lukhanyo Am has also returned, but is not getting game time.

One-cap wing Edwill van der Merwe will start for the Lions, while scrumhalf Morné van den Berg will play off the bench.

However, the #BIG match for the weekend will see defending champions Cheetahs tackle Western Province in Bloemfontein.

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Cheetahs coach Izak van der Westhuizen said he expects Province to play a traditional expansive game – having dropped big hints about their intentions in the monsoon-like conditions in their loss to the Bulls last week.

“We are expecting an exciting, high-paced game,” he said, adding: “They have quality forwards, so the set pieces will also be a big battle.”

The coach admitted that WP will pose a bigger threat than the Griffons did last week.

(Article continues below the Cheetahs preview video …)

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“We struggled with our discipline at first,”he said of last week’s opening round.

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“The execution of our tactical kicking was also a big work-on for us this week.”

The two-tier conference system of the competitions has put added significance on winning home games, with the consequence of a loss a potentially dramatic slide.

“One loss and then you have to fight your way back,” van der Westhuizen said.

He said they have – from their experience in the Challenge Cup in Europe – the implication of dropping points.

“We have to pitch up and perform.”

WP Defence Coach Norman Laker is looking forward to the challenge that awaits Province in Bloemfontein.

The trip to Bloem, after the loss to the Bulls in torrential rain in Cape Town last week, presents WP with an opportunity for an immediate rebound.

“The Cheetahs are a quality team,” Laker said, adding: “They have a good foundation as a counter-attacking team and they can put their opposition under pressure with the ball in hand.

“It’s never easy in Bloemfontein.

“We’ve had success there in the past with our process and plans that we’ve implemented and got right, so we are looking forward to the challenge.”

He felt that the Currie Cup has become the ‘be-all and end-all’.

“We are looking to blood a few youngsters and grow our squad depth for the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup.

“So while it’s never easy going to Bloem, we are confident that the team can do it on Saturday.

“The challenge for us is to stay into fight.”

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* The Sharks will face a familiar foe in a Griquas team showing just two changes to the starting XV from last week’s loss to the Pumas.

In the second row, Athenkosi Khetani, replaces Dylan Sjoblom, at lock.

Sjoblom moves to the bench.

In the backline, Lubabalo Dobela has been promoted from the bench to flyhalf at the expense of the experienced George Whitehead.

The former North West Eagles pivot, Zinedine Robinson, comes onto the bench for his debut and to provide cover as the backline marshall.

The Griquas will be targeting their first win after their opening-round loss.

The Sharks in turn want to set the record straight after they were beaten by the Lions in Durban in Round One.

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Many a team has come undone in Kimberley and for JP Pietersen’s side, there will be no underestimating the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead.

With six Springboks in the side, there is plenty to excite the fans.

Pietersen said the leadership group will ensure there is not too much of a disruption.

“They [the players] do understand that it is not a province [Sharks] thing, but a country issue,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “The young players in the team now get an opportunity to play and train with World Cup-winning Springboks.

“They can benefit from it, learn from and chat with those players.

“It is an opportunity for the young guys in my group to grow.”

With Griquas having lost to the Pumas at home last weekend (24-44), Pietersen expects a backlash from their hosts.

“They’ll want to bounce back.

“They’ve had a good year and they’re a confident team, and as a group, we know this is going to be a physical battle in Kimberley, but it’s an exciting challenge for us and we’re also confident going into this match.

“The challenge for us is to stay into fight.”

* The Pumas made some minor tweaks to their team for Friday’s home game against a powerful Lions team.

The only change in the starting XV sees Kabelo Mokoena come in on the wing.

The Lions’ starting XV shows sees three changes to the side that claimed victory over the Sharks in Durban last week.

Junior Springbok Sam Francis makes his senior professional debut at flyhalf in place of Kade Wolhuter, who’s carrying a niggle from last week.

Springbok Edwill van der Merwe, back from international duty, starts on the right wing with Morné van den Berg covering the halfback position on the bench.

“We’re grateful for the positive start last week and hope to carry that form into this week,”Lions coach Mziwakhe Nkosi said.

“We’re alive to the fact that the Pumas will be tough opposition, particularly at home as they are a team that are well established and have cohesion, so no doubt they’ll be challenging.””

All the Round Two teams and predictions follow below

Friday, July 12

Griquas v Sharks
(Griqua Stadium, Kimberley – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Sharks by nine points

Teams

Griquas: 15 Cameron Hufke, 14 Marcqiewn Titus, 13 Sango Xamlashe, 12 Mnombo Zwelendaba, 11 Sako Makata, 10 Lubabalo Dobela, 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 Hanru Sirgel, 7 Marco de Witt, 6 Stephan Smit (captain), 5 Albert Liebenberg, 4 Athenkosi Khetani, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Leon Lyons.
Replacements: 16 Gustav du Rand, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Cebo Dlamini, 19 Dylan Sjoblom, 20 Derik Pretorius, 21 Carl Els, 22 Bobby Alexander, 23 Zinedine Robinson

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Muller du Plessis, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Bradley Davids, 8 Nick Hatton (captain), 7 Phepsi Buthelezi, 6 Tino Mavesere, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Coetzee le Roux, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Abraham Reynecke, 18 Khwezi Mona, 19 Reinier Viljoen, 20 Jannes Potgieter, 21 Tiaan Fourie, 22 Murray Koster, 23 Eduan Keyter/Jaco Williams.

Referee: Christopher Allison
TMO: Ben Crouse

Pumas v Lions
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Lions by seven points

Teams

Pumas: 15 Stefan Coetzee, 14 Kabelo Mokoena, 13 De-an Ackermann, 12 Wian van Niekerk, 11 Phiko Sobahle, 10 Clinton Swart, 9 Ross Braude, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Ruwald van der Merwe, 6 Ntsika Fisanti, 5 Shane Kirkwood (captain), 4 Malembe Mpofu, 3 Sampie Swiegers, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Etienne Janeke.
Replacements: 16 Darnell Osuagwu, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Munashe Mhere, 19 Deon Slabbert, 20 Marvelous Mashimbyi, 21 Richman Gora, 22 Danrich Visagie, 23 Tino Swanepoel.

Lions: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Sam Francis, 9 Nico Steyn, 8 Izan Esterhuizen, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Jarod Cairns, 5 Ruben Schoeman, 4 Raynard Roets, 3 RF Schoeman, 2 Jaco Visagie (captain), 1 Morgan Naudé.
Replacements: 16 Jacque-Lois du Toit, 17 SJ Kotze, 18 Conrad van Vuuren, 19 Sibabalo Qoma, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Renzo du Plessis, 22 Morné van den Berg, 23 Tapiwa Mafura.

Referee: Sean Muller
TMO: Christie du Preez

Saturday, July 13

Cheetahs v Western Province
(Free State Stadium; Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 13.55; 11.55 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Cheetahs by 11 points

Teams

Cheetahs: 15 Litha Nkula, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Munier Hartzenberg, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Daniel Kasende, 10. Ethan Wentzel, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Aidon Davis, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Vernon Paulo, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Robert Hunt, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Neels Volschenk, 22 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 23 Reinhardt Fortuin

Western Province: 15 Luke Burger, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Jurie Matthee, 9 Imad Khan, 8 Willie Engelbrecht (captain), 7 Hendre Stassen, 6 Paul de Villiers, 5 Gary Porter, 4 Connor Evans, 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 JJ Kotze, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Vernon Matongo, 18 Corne Weilbach, 19 Andre-Hugo Venter, 20 CJ Velleman, 21 Louw Nel, 22 Labib Kannemeyer, 23 Damian Markus.

Referee: Ruhan Meiring
TMO: Archie Sehlako

Sunday, July 14

Griffons v Bulls
(North West Stadium, Welkom – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Bulls by 18 points

Teams

Griffons: 15 Gurshwin Wehr, 14 Gilroy Philander, 13 Keanu Vers, 12 Robbie Petzer, 11 Qamani Kota, 10 Duan Pretorius (captain), 9 Keegan Schaefer, 8 Siphamandla Mingo Piti, 7 Wikus Nieuwenhuis, 6 Thato Mavundla, 5 Curtly Thomas, 4 Rian Olivier, 3 Moango Ngundue, 2 Chadley Wenn, 1 Xolani Jacobs.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Mthokozisi Gumede, 18 Buhle Nojekwa, 19 Joshua Paris, 20 Matthew Gray, 21 Jared Kruger, 22 Cheslin Arendse, 23 Christiaan Nel.

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Chris Barend Smit, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Bernard van der Linde, 8 Celimpilo Gumede, , 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nizaam Carr (captain), 5 Sintu Manjezi, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Jope van Zyl, 1 Jan-Hendrik Wessels.
Replacements: 16 Jacques van Rooyen, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Merwe Olivier, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Izak Burger, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Christie du Preez

@king365ed
@rugby365com

 

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