Currie Cup, Round Five - teams and predictions
BOXING DAY BATTLE: Rugby on December 26. It has been a source of much banter in the last couple of months, but what is going to happen at Newlands on Saturday will be no joke.
Western Province coach John Dobson often quipped about that ‘traditional’ Boxing Day game.
Now his team gets the chance to make history.
The first-ever Currie Cup match at Newlands, on December 26.
And they welcome back a few key players, after last week’s bye allowed them spending some valuable time with their families.
Dobson spoke of his team being ‘well-rested’ and ready to give it everything when they host a tricky and determined Griquas team.
“We know that it will take a focused and sustained effort for 80 minutes if we are going to get the result we want and our team is certainly up for the challenge,” he said.
The next day Bloemfontein gets to write its own chapter in history – Currie Cup rugby on a Sunday, in December.
“For a lot of us it will be the first time that we play on a Sunday and in my coaching career of 18 years I have never coached a team that played on a Sunday,” Fourie told a media briefing.
As we head into Round Five, the Bulls lead the standings on 35 points with seven wins and a draw (for a cancelled match) from 10 outings so far. They are followed by the Lions on 29 points, the Sharks (28), Western Province (26) and Cheetahs (21).
The Pumas (12) and the winless Griquas (seven) are in the basement battle.
We look at the Round Five matches below the standings!
Saturday, December 26
Western Province v Griquas
(Newlands, Cape Town – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)
Western Province is not going to be in a festive and ‘giving’ mood on Saturday.
There is far too much at stake and Griquas must expect a mean-spirited opponent at Newlands.
Not surprising that coach John Dobson is fielding is best available XV – boosted by the return of a number of key players.
Magic man Sergeal Petersen is back on the wing, while No.8 Juarno Augustus and prop Frans Malherbe are bolstering the already impressive pack.
The flip side is the absence of replacement hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni (sidelined due to a quad injury) and starting lock Salmaan Moerat – the latter sitting out as a result of COVID-19 protocols, having been in contact with a positive case.
Griquas have bee bolstered by the return of flank Gideon van der Merwe, who has successfully completed his recovery from a head blow sustained in their home defeat against the Lions a month ago.
Both coach John Dobson and captain Siyamthanda Kolisi cautioned the WP players not to ‘overindulge’ during their Christmas gatherings on Friday and arrive at Newlands on Saturday “feeling heavy”.
Kolisi said with their time at Newlands running out, before the big move to the Cape Town Stadium in 2021, they must make sure every game at the Grand Old Dame counts.
“We want to win, no matter how,” he said, adding: “As long as we get over the line and bring the trophy home.
“We would love to play and expansive game and do the amazing things, like the off-loads we are famous for.
“At the end of the day, if we can get a ‘W’ at the weekend, that is the most important thing.
“We will do our best to get into positions where we can play the magic and do great things. However, we first have to ensure we play in the right areas on the field.
“We won’t fall into the trap of just wanting to play ‘beautiful’ rugby.
“We do have the game-breakers, but we first have to play in the right areas of the field.”
Asked by @rugby365com about what they expect from the winless Griquas team, the Springboks’ World Cup-winning skipper said they will be a “desperate” team.
“They will want to finish strong, because this is their last-ever game at Newlands.
“We know they will throw everything they have at us.”
Last 10 Currie Cup outings
2013: WP won 20-19, Kimberley
2013: WP won 19-13, Cape Town
2014: WP won 36-12, Cape Town
2015: WP won 43-19, Kimberley
2015: WP won 33-15, Cape Town
2016: WP won 52-31, Kimberley
2017: Griquas 44-34, Kimberley
2017: WP won 55-27, Cape Town
2019: WP won 38-12, Cape Town
2019: Griquas 27-23, Kimberley
Western Province have dominated exchanges between two of the oldest provinces and Currie Cup teams in the country. WP have won 31 of their 37 encounters, with one draw. That draw was at Newlands in 2011, but Griquas have never won in Cape Town.
@rugby365com: Western Province by 18 points
Western Province: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 John Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements – from: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Tristan Leyds, 24 Ernst van Rhyn, 25 Chris Schreuder, 26 Leolin Zas.
Griquas: 15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Eduan Keyter, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Johan Momsen, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements – from: 16 Hendrick Luus, 17 Nqobisizwe Mxoli, 18 Tijde Visser, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 Sibabalo Qoma, 21 Cyril Velleman, 22 Ashlon Davids, 23 Daniel Kasende, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Raegan Oranje.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Divan Uys
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
Sunday, December 27
Cheetahs v Sharks
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)
Expect the unexpected. The Cheetahs are desperate to get back into the play-off race and need to win all their remaining games.
They will have to take a few risks and the return of try-scoring wing Rosko Specman will certainly aid their cause.
The inclusion of veteran Springbok Teboho Mohojé, who starts at flank in place of the injured Aidon Davids, will help their struggling line-outs.
However, it is the inclusion of the Sevens star – affectionately known as ‘SpecMagic’ – that will give the Cheetahs a different point of reference.
“Rosko [Specman] brings a lot of energy to the team and gives great input,” coach Hawies Fourie said.
“He is a key player in our set-up and can bring those moments of magic.”
The Cheetahs coach said the predictions of a warm, dry day will allow them to play the type of game they enjoy – take an expansive approach.
“The Sharks have had a good season so far and that win against the Bulls a fortnight ago was a great performance,” Fourie said.
“They struggled in the scrums [against the Lions] last week, but they would have worked on that.
“However, our focus this week has been on what we can improve in our game,” the coach said.
The Cheetahs have to win all three their remaining matches – the Sharks this week and Western Province next week (both at home), then finish off with a trip to Kimberley to face Griquas.
Fourie said they are not focusing on the ‘must-win’ scenario, but rather what they can and must improve.
“We first have to beat the Sharks, before we can start concerning ourselves with WP.
“It’s a massive challenge, but we are up for it.”
Last 10 Currie Cup outings
2013: Sharks won 33-22, Durban
2014: Sharks won 19-16, Durban
2014: Sharks and Cheetahs drew 30-all, Bloemfontein
2015: Sharks and Cheetahs drew 34-all, Bloemfontein
2016: Cheetahs won 38-30, Durban
2017: Cheetahs won 47-12, Bloemfontein
2017: Sharks won 45-15, Durban
2018: Sharks won 33-29, Bloemfontein
2019: Sharks won 27-20, Durban
2019: Cheetahs won 51-30, Bloemfontein
The historical match-up between the two teams is pretty even – Cheetahs having won 23 of their 45 encounters, the Sharks 19 and three games drawn. Two of those draws were in Bloemfontein, in 2015 (34-all) and 2014 (30-all). The Sharks’ last win in Bloemfontein was 2018 (33-29).
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by seven points
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Teboho Mohojé, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner (captain), 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacement: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John Hubert-Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Griffin Colby
TMO: Jaco Peyper
* Statistics provided by Eddie Grieb