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Currie Cup, Round 14 - teams and predictions

FRIDAY PREVIEW: Five teams will compete for the last two playoff spots in the final round of the Currie Cup this weekend.

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The tournament has witnessed a huge battle for playoff positions in recent weeks. That scrap will reach a climax this weekend, with the Pumas, Bulls, Griquas, WP and Lions competing for the final two spots.

The Pumas – who currently sit in third place – will be targeting a win in Kimberley on Friday, which will be a repeat of their amazing feat last year in the Currie Cup final. That said, a loss with a bonus point or two may still earn them a playoff spot, providing that other results go their way.

Griquas will climb from fifth to third if they beat the defending champs. In that event, they will advance to the final four, regardless of what happens in later fixtures.

The Pumas are on a four match losing streak while Griquas won two of their last three matches and drawing with the Cheetahs. In their last outing they beat Western Province convincingly by 38-29, a massive boost for the men from Kimberley.

Griquas coach Pieter Bergh says all the pressure is on the Pumas as the defending champions when these two teams meet in Kimberley in the Currie Cup on Friday.

“We haven’t spoken about last years’ final at all as a team. It is not a big thing for us. On the contrary, I think the pressure is on the Pumas. They are the deafening champions and six or seven weeks ago everyone was saying they will lift the Currie Cup again this year.

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“They were by far everyone’s favourite team to win the competition. At one stage we were 16 points behind them. Now only one point separates us and we can kick them out. So I don’t think there is much pressure on us,” Bergh commented.

He added the momentum his side is bringing into this game unbeaten in their last three games will stand them in good stead.

“I really think we are playing good rugby. That gives us a lot of confidence.”

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Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse made five changes to their starting XV, three among the forwards, including one positional switch, while the backline has two changes following their defeat to the Cheetahs.

The game in Kimberley will not be broadcast live on Supersport with a delayed broadcast planned.

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The Lions need a big win against the Griffons on Friday. The Northern Free Staters have lost 12 of their previous 13 matches.

The Johannesburg side could finish the league stage with 36 log points, provided that they secure a bonus-point win in Welkom. They will need every other fixture in the final round to go their way – with Griquas, the Bulls and WP losing their respective games – to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals.

“We just want to finish as strongly as possible,” coach Mziwakhe Nkosi said.

All the Friday teams and predictions follow below …

Currie Cup, Round 14 - teams and predictions

Griquas v Pumas

(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Griquas by 4 points

Teams

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 (captain), 6 Thabo Ndimande, 5 Derik Pretorius 4 Dylan Sjöblom, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube.
Replacements: 16 Sean Swart, 17 Cebo Dlamini, 18 Justin Forwood, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Stephan Smit, 21 Reagan Oranje, 22 Eduard Fouche, 23 Sango Xamlashe.

Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Andrew Kota, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Francois Kleinhas, 6 Andre Fouche, 5 Shane Kirkwood (captain), 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Simon Raw, 2 Pieter Jacobs, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Darnell Osuagwu, 17 Etiene Janeke, 18 Dewald Maritz, 19 Malembe Mpofu, 20 Ruwald van der Merwe, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Gene Willemse, 23 Wian Van Niekerk

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Quinton Immelman

Griffons v Lions

(Welkom Stadium, Welkom – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)

Prediction

@rugby365com: Lions by 25

Teams

Griffons: 15 Duan Pretorius, 14 Domenic Smit, 13 Carel Coetzee, 12 Jandre de Beer, 11 Keanu Vers, 10 Robbie Petzer, 9 Jaywinn Juries, 8 Sokuphumla Xakalashe, 7 Thomas Ongera, 6 Jean Pretorius, 5 Rian Olivier, 4 Wikus Nieuwenhuis, 3 Buhle Nojekwa, 2 Hendrik van Schoor, 1 Xolani Jacobs.
Replacements: 16 Dandre Delport, 17 Stephan de Jager, 18 Hillary Mwajilwa, 19 Michael Benadie, 20 Ludio Williams, 21 Thato Mavundla, 22 Marquit September, 23 Duren Hoffman

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Boldwin Hansen, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Johannes Pretorius, 5 Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie (captain), Rhynhardt Runsburger.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Botha, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 Travis Gordon, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Tyler Bocks, 23 Stean Pienaar

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Referees: Phumzile Mbewu, Jonathan Lottering
TMO: AM Jacobs

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