PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Five
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Currie Cup will move closer to the business end of the competition this weekend as three teams enter the second half of their campaigns, while the Blue Bulls will play their penultimate pool match.
The unbeaten Golden Lions and Western Province will go head-to-head in a decisive match with an eye on possible home semifinals in the competition.
The Sharks, also undefeated, have a bye.
The Free State Cheetahs, Griquas, Pumas and Blue Bulls, meanwhile, will be fighting for survival, as defeats this weekend could knock them out of the semifinal race.
We take a closer look at Round Five’s matches!
Friday, September 14:
Blue Bulls v Pumas
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
The Blue Bulls and Pumas will kick off the action at Loftus Versfeld on Friday in what is expected to be a hard-fought clash.
The men from Mpumalanga have won only one of their three matches so far, while the hosts will be determined to build on their victory last week to remain in the top four on the standings with only one pool match remaining following this clash. History favours the Pretorians, whose winning run at home against the Pumas extends beyond 1997.
Blue Bulls coach Pote Human made three personnel changes to his team, which sees Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl and Dayan van der Westhuizen earn their first Currie Cup starts of the season, while Johnny Kotze returns to the starting line-up.
Press Conference: Vodacom Blue Bulls vs iCollege Pumas#BullsFamily #VBBvPUM
Posted by Blue Bulls on Wednesday, 12 September 2018
“The Pumas are well-drilled and have shown in recent years that they always keep their best performances for when they play us.
“We need to be sharp and will have to defend better than last week, when we conceded 40 points in Kimberley.
“That said, the win was important for us as we had to guts it out. Playing at home will be another motivation, as we lost our previous home game and owe our supporters a good showing,” said Human when he announced the team.
In the Pumas camp, Hugo Kloppers takes over the captaincy from the injured Hennie Skorbinski in a team that shows three personnel changes, with Devon Williams, Morne Joubert and Andrew Beerwinkel being drafted into the starting XV.
2017: Blue Bulls won 52-32, Pretoria
2017: Pumas won 51-15, Nelspruit
2016: Blue Bulls won 41-14, Nelspruit
2015: Blue Bulls won 25-24, Nelspruit
2014: Blue Bulls won 37-6, Nelspruit
Prediction: The Blue Bulls win by 15 points.
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Dayan der Westhuizen, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Conrad van Vuuren, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neill Maritz, 1 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel; 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer; 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (captain), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Christopher Allison
TMO: Lesego Legoete
Saturday, September 15:
Golden Lions v Western Province
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)
The Golden Lions and defending champions, Western Province, will meet in Johannesburg on Saturday where the home side will be hunting their sixth successive home win against the Capetonians.
With Western Province coming off a bye, they will have to hit the ground running. But they will enter the match with confidence after registering convincing victories in their first two matches.
The Golden Lions and Western Province coaches made three personnel changes to their teams, with Corné Fourie and Andries Coetzee starting and Sylvian Mahuza moving to the wing for the hosts, while Chris van Zyl will lead the Capetonians, as Michael Kumbirai and Dan Kriel also earn starts.
“We know it will be much tougher and we are working on fixing the errors from our last match,” said Lions centre Lionel Mapoe.
“It all starts up front – we will have to man up.
“The side that is more physical will take it and we will have to win our set pieces and get go-forward ball.”
Meanwhile, Western Province head coach John Dobson said that it will take an 80-minute performance to challenge the Golden Lions at Ellis Park.
“We know that we will have to be accurate in all areas and sustain our effort until the final whistle if we are to come away with a win this weekend.
“Our preparations have gone well following our bye last week, but the key will be putting those plans into action on Saturday,” he said.
2017: Western Province won 19-5, Cape Town (semifinal)
2017: Golden Lions won 29-20, Johannesburg
2017: Western Province won 39-3, Cape Town
2016: Golden Lions won 58-32, Johannesburg
2015: Golden Lions won 32-24, Johannesburg (Final)
Prediction: It’s the match of the weekend and it will be tight. WP will take it by five points.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Corne Fourie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Johannes Jonker, 18 Reinhard Nothnagel, 19 Driaan Bester, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Wandisile Simelane.
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Dan du Plessis.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Griffin Colby
TMO: Willie Vos
Griquas v Free State Cheetahs
(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)
Griquas will host the Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley in a bottom-of-the-log encounter, which will be fuelled by desperation, as both teams have yet to win a match this season.
The sides have been closely matched on defence with over 140 points conceded, but Griquas have scored almost double the number of points in their three matches, which they will rely on to give them an edge.
Griquas made five changes to their pack, which features a new-look front row of Ewald van der Westhuizen, Liam Hendricks and Wilmar Arnoldi, while the Free State Cheetahs drafted Johan Kotze and Daniel Maartens in among the forwards, Ernst Stapelberg at pivot and Vuyani Maqina on the left wing.
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) September 13, 2018
Cheetahs captain Rudy Paige says his team knows what to do to try and get a much-needed win in Kimberley.
“We would love to play an attacking brand and score tries, but for that, you need to have the ball.
“I think the biggest priority is just getting the ball and holding onto and then we would love to score some tries,” he said.
2017: Griquas won 59-24, Kimberley
2017: Griquas won 30-25, Bloemfontein
2016: Free State Cheetahs won 63-26, Bloemfontein
2015: Free State Cheetahs won 44-24, Bloemfontein
2015: Free State Cheetahs won 31-9, Kimberley
Prediction: We think Griquas will take this one by eight points.
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (captain), 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Eital Bredenkamp, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Ewald van de Westhuizen, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Liam Hendricks.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 FP Pelser, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Zak Burger, 21 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Christopher Bosch.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige (Captain), 8 Stephan Malan, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Dennis Vissier, 4 Louis Conradie, 3 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 2 Reincah Venter, 1 Johan Kotze.
Replacements: 16 Kevin Stevens, 17 Jannes Snyman, 18 Stefan van Schalkwyk, 19 Nardus Erasmus, 20 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 21 Dian Badenhorst, 22 Ryno Eksteen.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Nico Schmahl
TMO: JJ Wagner
Currie Cup First Division
The scramble for semifinal places will also be the driving force in the Currie Cup First Division with the Final a little over a month away.
The Eastern Cape derby between the Border Bulldogs and Eastern Province will play out in East London on Friday where Border will be determined to build on their first win last week. Eastern Province, in turn, will want to get off the mark after earning only a bonus point in two matches. The Port Elizabeth side, however, put up a good fight against log-leaders, the Leopards, last week, which will boost their confidence.
The clash in Welkom between the Griffons and Boland Cavaliers on Saturday will mark a repeat of last year’s semifinal. This time around, however, the hosts will have their sights set on their first victory of the season, while Boland try to bounce back from a home defeat. The Griffons’ defence has let them down this season with 88 points conceded, which is an area they will have to improve to work their way up the log table.
The Falcons and South Western Districts Eagles, meanwhile, will close off the weekend’s play with a thrilling battle, which could see one of the sides occupy the top spot on the log temporarily. The George outfit are currently in second position, one point ahead of their Kempton Park rivals, who will have to come out firing to regain the momentum lost from their bye. The Falcons have won their last three home games against SWD, and with their attack being more effective this season, the visitors may have to work hard for a win.
First Division Round Four fixtures:
Friday, September 14:
Border Bulldogs v Eastern Province
Venue: Buffalo City Stadium, East London
Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT
Referee: Archie Sehlako
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Saturday, September 15:
Griffons v Boland Cavaliers
Venue: North West Stadium, Welkom
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant Referees: Darren Colby and local appointment
Falcons v SWD Eagles
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Kick-off: 15.30; 13.30 GMT
Referee: Ricus van der Hoven
Assistant Referees: Mpho Matsaung and local appointment