Currie Cup, Round Six - Teams and Predictions
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: The Currie Cup log is looking a bit congested as the competition goes into Round Six.
As it currently stands only five points separate second place and fifth place heading into this penultimate round of matches before the play-offs.
The Bulls, who have a bye in this round, lead the way with 35 points with Western Province (second on 31), Lions (29), Sharks (28) and Cheetahs (26) are seemingly fighting for the three semifinal places.
The big match of the weekend will be in Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs will host Western Province.
A victory for the Cheetahs will keep them in the play-off race heading into the final round while a defeat will almost certainly end their Currie Cup hopes.
A big win for WP could see them overtake the Bulls at the top of the standings. However, a defeat could leave them in a tricky position in the standings ahead of their final-round match against the Sharks in Cape Town.
Saturday’s action kicks off in Nelspruit where the Pumas host the Lions. Saturday’s other match sees the Sharks host Griquas with the match kicking off at the same time as the Cheetahs v Western Province match.
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We take a closer look at all the matches in Round Six!
Saturday, January 2:
Pumas v Lions
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT)
The Lions have been on a high in the Currie Cup, winning all four of their matches so far, and with the semifinals in sight, they will be determined to keep that track record intact in Nelspruit.
This clash will mark the first time the sides meet this season after their Super Rugby Unlocked match was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols, however, they will be wary of the Lowvelders who tested some of the top teams at stages this season.
The Pumas have only defeated the Lions once in the Currie Cup since 2011< However, they went down to the Johannesburgers by only one point last season, which is sure to inspire them going into Saturday’s game.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse made seven changes to his matchday squad – three changes to the starting team and four on the bench as they look to create an upset in the closing rounds of the pool stages.
Two of the changes in the starting XV were amongst the backs, where Ali Mgijima replaces Wayne van der Bank at inside centre, and Ginter Smuts takes over from Chriswill September in a rotational switch at scrumhalf, which sees the latter being named among the replacements.
The only change in the forward pack was in the second row, where Darrien Landsberg replaces the injured Le Roux Roets.
Experienced prop Wiehahn Herbst will start for the Lions in one of two changes to the Jozi team.
The Klerksdorp-born prop, who has represented the Sharks, Bulls and Irish giants Ulster, joined the Johannesburg outfit during lockdown in July.
Herbst takes over from another veteran, Jannie du Plessis, in the front row. The other change to coach Ivan van Rooyen’s starting team was at flank where Vincent Tshituka comes in for Wilhelm van der Sluys.
“We really had a good week of training. They guys really trained with good energy and with intent. We know we are going to Nelspruit to face a desperate Pumas side,” said Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen.
“They [Pumas] really had a good consistent season and they were unlucky with a couple of results. We go there with a mindset of a good tough physical game.”
He added: “It’s nice and congested on the log with five teams competing for four spots and before next week we first need to get through this game with the Pumas.
“We are fully determined to go down there. We are excited about the opportunity this weekend and we are looking forward to it.”
Last 10 Currie Cup outings
2010: Pumas won 34-27, Johannesburg
2011: Lions won 31-27, Johannesburg
2011: Lions won 34-20, Nelspruit
2014: Lions won 29-15, Johannesburg
2015: Lions won 44-27, Johannesburg
2015: Lions won 41-11, Nelspruit
2016: Lions won 68-26, Johannesburg
2017: Pumas won 43-36, Nelspruit
2018: Lions won 33-21, Nelspruit
2019: Lions won 38-37, Johannesburg
It is always difficult to go to Nelspruit and face the Pumas, but the Lions should be too strong for them this week.
@rugby365com: Lions by 12 points
Pumas: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Devon Williams, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Ignatius Prinsloo, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Eduan Swart, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Tiaan Botes, 22 Alwayno Visagie, 23 Wayne van der Bank.
Lions: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Cournall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 André Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Marnus Schoeman.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Paul Mente, Morne Ferreira
TMO: Johan Greeff
Sharks v Griquas
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)
The Sharks – who are currently in fourth place on the table – will have a point to prove when they host Griquas in Durban.
The KwaZulu-Natalians come off back-to-back defeats and face the risk of dropping out of the top four if they suffer yet another loss and the Cheetahs topple Western Province.
They will also be mindful of the fact that that they scraped through by one point in their last encounter against the men from Kimberley for a 34-33 victory in November, while they went down 13-37 against the visitors at Kings Park in the competition last year.
The exciting Aphelele Fassi will start at fullback in one of five personnel changes to the Sharks team, with the other four changes being among the forwards where Fezokhule Mbatha (hooker), Michael Kumbirai (tighthead prop), JJ van der Mescht (lock) and Thembelani Bholi (loose forward) will all earn starts.
“It’s going to be a physical battle against Griquas – as always,” said Sharks head coach Sean Everitt.
“We’ve set ourselves goals and high standards and I expect our team to bounce back and do well this weekend.”
Griquas have opted for continuity in selection, with the only change to coach Scott Mathie’s team being the inclusion of former Bulls and Cheetahs utility forward Ewan Coetzee at lock in what marks his first start. He replaces Adre Smith, who has been named among the replacements.
Replacement hooker CJ Conradie, meanwhile, will make his debut if he takes the field.
Last 10 Currie Cup outings
2012: Sharks won 42-3, Durban
2013: Griquas won 32-20, Durban
2013: Sharks won 25-24, Kimberley
2014: Sharks won 31-24, Kimberley
2014: Griquas won 21-18, Durban
2015: Sharks won 45-20, Kimberley
2016: Sharks won 46-24, Durban
2017: Sharks won 41-3, Durban
2018: Sharks won 41-11, Kimberley
2019: Griquas won 37-13, Durban
The Sharks are desperate, and they need some much-needed log points heading into the final round. They should be too strong for Griquas, who have failed to record a win so far.
@rugby365com: Sharks by 15 points.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Hanru Jacobs, 19 Aston Fortuin, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Mannie Libbok, 23 Anthony Volmink.
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 Ewan Coetzee, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements – from: 16 CJ Conradie, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Tijde Visser, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Siba Qoma, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Johnathan Francke, 23 Daniel Kasende, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Raegan Oranje.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron and Divan Uys
TMO: Marius Jonker
Cheetahs v Western Province
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)
Both the Cheetahs and Western Province will be hunting their third victory in a row when they cross paths in Bloemfontein, and given the high stakes for either team, it the match is expected to be gripping.
The Capetonians won their Super Rugby Unlocked match-up 30-13 in November in at Newlands, but with the pressure for semifinal places and favourable log positions for a possible home semifinal at boiling point in the Currie Cup, neither team will give an inch.
The Free Staters have won four of the last six Currie Cup matches between the teams, with three of those wins being in Bloemfontein.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie made two changes to his starting team for the clash with Rhyno Smith starting on the right wing in place of the injured William Small-Smith, and upfront Wilmar Arnoldi (hooker) is back from an injury and takes over from Marnus van der Merwe, who in turn moves to the replacements bench.
With wet conditions expected for Saturday’s match, Fourie believes the forward battle will be a key factor in the game.
“WP’s strong points are the scrums and mauls and defence,” said the Cheetahs coach. “They got a very strong pack with the Springbok front row, so I think a wet game will give them an advantage.
“But I think our scrums were good in the last outing and we believe can stand up to them. The wet conditions played a part in our decision to go six/two on the bench.”
David Meihuizen will start at lock in the only change to the Western Province team, joining JD Schickerling in the second row, while Jaco Coetzee – a late replacement for Springbok captain Siya Kolisi last weekend – retains the No 6 jersey.
“The continuity in selection this week will hopefully help us to build some momentum and play with some fluency,” said Western Province head coach John Dobson.
“We know that it will take an 80-minute performance in Bloemfontein this weekend if we are to come away with the result that we are looking for.”
Last 10 Currie Cup outings
2013: WP won 15-14, Cape Town
2013: WP won 29-27, Bloemfontein
2014: WP won 34-29, Bloemfontein
2015: WP won 9-3, Cape Town
2015: Cheetahs won 28-21, Bloemfontein
2016: Cheetahs won 32-25, Cape Town
2017: Cheetahs won 30-17, Bloemfontein
2018: WP won 57-14, Cape Town
2018: WP won 32-0, Cape Town
2019: Cheetahs won 38-33, Bloemfontein
It will be a tight one. The Cheetahs are at home and will just edge it.
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by two points.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner (captain), 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacements: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Erich de Jager, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 George Cronje, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Tian Meyer.
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 Jaco Coetzee, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements – from: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Tristan Leyds, 24 Leon Lyons, 25 Chad Solomon, 26 Ben-Jason Dixon.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Egon Seconds
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen
Additional source: SA Rugby