Currie Cup, Round 12 - teams and predictions
SATURDAY PREVIEW: Every Currie Cup game is vital as the semifinals loom and with no easy games anymore, every result affects the table significantly.
No clear daylight exists between the top four teams and the rest of the field, which makes this stage of the competition very interesting.
Western Province and the Bulls are yapping at the heels of the Pumas, currently in third place on the Currie Cup log, and if these two can secure victories, the Pumas’ can slide down the table.
The Cheetahs have lost their last two matches, and will be desperate to bounce back against their neighbours from Kimberley on Saturday. Depending on the result in Welkom, the Free Staters may need to win big in Bloemfontein in order to retain their position at the top of the standings.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie has picked Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf in place of George Lourens while the youngster Rewan Kruger takes over his number nine jumper.
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Two #CurrieCup titles with two different teams 🏆👏
— The Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) May 25, 2023
This time last year the Cheetahs suffered their biggest loss in the Currie Cup at the hands of the Griquas, something both sides are very aware of.
Griquas coach Pieter Bergh believes he has a masterstroke up his sleeve with the selection of George Whitehead at fullback.
“With George at fullback we hope we will be able to counter the high kicking attacks that we believe the Cheetahs will throw at us. Their game plan has changed quite significantly from what we know traditional Free State rugby used to be.
“They are playing much more conservative and we must be ready for their kicking game. George is our best kicker out of hand so the positional switch is definitely tactical,” the coach explained.
Like the Cheetahs, the Pumas have suffered a slump in form over the past two weeks, with defeats to the Sharks and WP. Currently in third place, they could slip further down the log if they don’t see off the Bulls in Nelspruit this Saturday.
The men from Pretoria have transformed since welcoming back a host of star players from United Rugby Championship duty. After claiming the scalps of Griquas and the Lions, Jake White’s charges will be targeting a third-successive victory this Saturday.
White, director of coaching at the Bulls, has selected the same match 23 that beat the Lions at Ellis Park last weekend, putting his faith in the men that secured the win.
Saturday, May 27
Cheetahs v Griquas
(Bloemfontein Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 13.30; 11.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by 10
Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Evardi Boshoff, 11 Cohen Jasper, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Friedle Olivier, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Laurence Victor, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferrreira.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Andisa Ntsila, 20 George Cronje, 21 Daniel Maartens, 22 Siyabonga Masuku, 23 Robert Ebersohn
Griquas: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Lubabalo Dobela, 9 Johan Mulder, 8 Carl Els, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Thabo Ndimande, 5 Derik Pretorius 4 Dylan Sjoblom, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube.
Replacement: 16 Sean Swart, 17 Cebo Dlamini, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Stephan Smit, 21 Reagan Oranje, 22 Eduard Fouche, 23 Sango Xamlashe
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Quinton Immelman
Pumas v Bulls
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 15.35; 13.35 GMT)
@rugby365com: Pumas by 7
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Andrew Kota, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Wian van Niekerk, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Francois Kleinhas, 6 Andre Fouche, 5 Shane Kirkwood (captain), 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Njabulo Gumede, 2 Corne Fourie, 1 Cameron Dawson.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Jacobs, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Malembe Mpofu, 20 Ruwald van der Merwe, 21 Lundi Msenge, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Jaco Labuschagne
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Sibongile Novuka, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Cornal Hendricks
Referee: Griffin Colby
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Archie Sehlako