Currie Cup, Round three - teams and predictions
FRIDAY PREVIEWS: Round Three of the Currie Cup sees three action-packed matches happening on Friday.
The Lions and Griffons get the third round underway in Johannesburg and that game is followed by a clash in Bloemfontein between Cheetahs and Bulls.
The final match takes place at the Mbombela Stadium, where Pumas face Griquas in a repeat of last season’s final.
After two rounds, three teams are tied on 10 log points apiece, with the Cheetahs leading due to their superior points difference, followed by the Pumas and Western Province.
The leading trio are followed by the Sharks on six points, Griquas (five points), Lions (three points), Bulls (one point) and the Griffons, who are yet to register a log point.
The Cheetahs and Pumas both head into their respective clashes against the Bulls and Griquas unbeaten.
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Chance in the den
In the first fixture of the day, the Lions have a chance to register their first win against the Griffons at Ellis Park.
The Lions showed their prowess against WP and Pumas to be regarded as slight favourites at home.
However, missing some senior players due to the United Rugby Championship, the Lions will not underestimate the side from Welkom.
“We expect the Lions to be strong on their home ground but we are going to try to combat all the challenges that they will bring,” Griffons head coach Jacques Juries told @rugby365com.
“We are definitely looking forward to the fixture.
“It was a quick turnaround from last Sunday to this Friday, but we hope we can deliver our best against the Lions.”
“They [the Lions] have good depth in their squad and we expect them to be strong in their pack of forwards.
“They were good against the Pumas last week with their driving maul so they will definitely use their forwards.”
Juries added: “We know what we are up against. All the Currie Cup teams are very strong teams, and the Lions are no different.
“However, we are going to search for that win even if it takes us the whole season.”
— The Currie Cup (@TheCurrieCup) March 23, 2023
‘Rejuvenated’ Bulls in Bloem?
In somewhat similar circumstances the Bulls are also in dire need of a win.
The Bulls head into the Round Three fixture after two consecutive defeats and a win in Bloemfontein will be hard to come by.
The team from Bloemfontein looked menacing in their opening two games, and they should be firm favourites at home against the winless Bulls, who are seventh on the log.
Ruan Pienaar and his Cheetahs won both games against the men from Pretoria last year, with the last result ending 35-5 in their favour in Bloemfontein.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie is hoping his side can deliver an 80-minute performance against the very tricky Bulls team.
“This will be our first home game and it’s important for us to win it,” Fourie said, adding: “ A bonus-point win is definitely our aim, but it is important for us to play well and keep the intensity for 80 minutes.”
“Last week we made a lot of changes in the second half and made a lot of mistakes and could not get going. However, it will be a different story and we won’t just make unnecessary changes.
“We really want to start our home campaign on a good note and there is no better team than the Bulls.”
Fourie revealed the Bulls’ backline is a major threat.
“The Bulls have got a lot of depth in their squad, and they obviously have a bigger squad than us.
“They have a lot of experience in the backline, and it will be a tough game for us.”
Bulls defence coach Sean Everitt is seeking a good performance from his team following their two defeats.
“It is never going to be easy against the Cheetahs, who have been together for a long period of time.
“However it’s an opportunity for us to put our hands up for higher honours.”
He added: “You will see a reenergized and rejuvenated Bulls team running onto the field on Friday.
“We have grown in the last two weeks and it’s an opportunity for us to perform.”
In a replay of their memorable 2022 Currie Cup Final in Kimberley, the Pumas host Griquas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Jimmy Stonehouse’s team from Mpumalanga are flying high after two wins so far, although they needed a late try last weekend to put away a determined Lions team (34-27).
Meanwhile, the team from Kimberley team gained a deserving 48-40 win over the visiting Sharks and they will no doubt be full of confidence for their tricky visit to the Lowveld.
The Pumas won last year’s final 26-19 in the Diamond City, which was their only victory – and most important – in three encounters against the men from the Northern Cape in 2022.
In 2020 and 2021, the team from Mpumalanga won twice against Griquas, with the other ending in an exciting draw, so, this battle in Nelspruit should deliver another enthralling match.
“Some people claim that it’s a fixture that comes with hatred which stems from last season’s Currie Cup final but for us, it is not.
“It’s a new beginning, new season and it’s about getting points out of the game and just doing what we do best,” Stonehouse told @rugby365com
“We know they are a great side and it’s two teams that play a great brand of rugby, which will make this a great match.
“I really look forward to Friday.”
Friday, March 24
Lions v Griffons
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Lions by 10 points
Lions: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Boldwin Isaacs, 13 Steyn Pienaar, 12 Tyler Bocks, 11 Ilugna Mukendi, 10 Vaughan Isaacs, 9 Nico Steyn, 8 Jarod Cairns, 7 Ruhan Straeuli, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 4 Raynard Roetz, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Jaco Visagie (captain), 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Michael Van Vuuren, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Kabous Bezuidenhout, 19 PJ Steenkamp, 20 Pieter Janse Van Vuren, 21 Renzo Du Plessis, 22 Kelly Mpeku, 23 Jurich Claasens
Griffons: 15 Domenic Smit, 14 Randall Fielies, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Marquit September, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Duan Pretorius, 9 Jaywinn Juries, 8 Sokuphumla Xakalashe, 7 Jean Pretorius, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Michael Benadie, 4 Jaco Willemse, 3 Doctor Booysen, 2 Dandre Delport, 1 Stephan de Jager
Replacements: 16 Hendrik van Schoor, 17 Xolani Jacobs, 18 Neo Mohapi, 19 Wikus Nieuwenhuis, 20 Curtly Thomas, 21 Richman Gora, 22 Robbie Petzer, 23 Keanu Vers, 24 Buhle Nojekwa, 25 Thomas Ongera, 26 Duren Hoffman
Referee: Morne Ferreira
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen
Cheetahs v Bulls
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by 15 points
Cheetahs: 15 Cohen Jasper, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Lawrence Victor, 19 Sibabalo Qoma, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 David Brits, 23 Tapiwa Mafura
Bulls: 15 Franco Knoetze, 14 Quewin Nortje, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Kabelo Mokoena, 10 Chris Barent Smit, 9 Keagan Johannes, 8 Muller Uys, 7 Mihhali Mosi, 6 Cameron Hanekom, 5 Reinhardt Ludwig, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Jan Hendrik Wessels, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replaceements: 16 Joe Van Zyl, 17 Jacques Van Rooyen, 18 Sebastian Lombard, 19 Juan Van Der Westhuizen, 20
Phumzile Maqondwana, 21 Bernard Van Der Linde, 22 Adriaan Joubert, 23 Juan Mostert.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Egon Seconds
Pumas v Griquas
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
@rugby365com: Pumas by three points
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Etienne Taljaard, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Lundi Msenge, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Andre Fouché, 5 Shane Kirkwood (captain), 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Ignatius Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Etienne Janeke, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Malembe Mpofu, 20 Ruwald van der Merwe, 21 Chriswill September, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Stefan Coetzee.
Griquas: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Zander du Plessis, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Lubabalo Dobela, 9 Johan Mulder, 8 Carl Els, 7 Hanru Sirgel (captain), 6 Stephan Smit, 5 Albert Liebenberg, 4 Derik Pretorius, 3 Cebo Dlamini, 2 Gustav du Rand, 1 Kudzwai Dube.
Replacements: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Junior Banda, 19 Johan Retied, 20 Neil Otto, 21 Reagan Oranhe, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Eddie Fouche.
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Assistant Referees: Local
TMO: Quinton Immelman