PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Five
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Every match will be vital in the Currie Cup this weekend as two teams play their penultimate pool games, while the other four sides enter the second half of the competition.
Western Province and the Pumas will meet in the only match on Friday, while Saturday’s action will see the Sharks and Free State Cheetahs battle it out in Durban, and the Golden Lions and Blue Bulls line up in the Jukskei derby in Johannesburg.
Log-leaders, Griquas, have a bye.
We take a closer look at all Round Five’s fixtures!
Friday, August 9:
Western Province v Pumas
(Newlands Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)
Western Province and the Pumas will enter their Currie Cup match at Newlands equally determined to register a victory as both sides currently find themselves on seven log points with only one win to their name.
The Capetonians, however, have played three matches, while the Pumas have played four, meaning a defeat for the men from Mpumalanga will in all likelihood deal the killer blow to their semifinal aspirations.
Western Province have a good track record against the Pumas, suffering only one defeat since 2000, but the visitors showed against the Sharks that they can be a force to be reckoned with under pressure.
The home side will be boosted by the return of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi at flank, a move that resulted in JD Schickerling moving to lock, with Salmaan Moerat set to make an impact in the second half. Wilco Louw also returns to the starting line-up.
In the backline Justin Phillips is at scrumhalf, with Sergeal Petersen making his first start of the season on the wing.
Loose forward Nama Xaba could debut from the bench, with prop Neethling Fouche getting his first opportunity of the campaign and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis back among the replacements.
Western Province head coach John Dobson believes his team is much better than their log position (fourth) at the moment.
“We probably should have won another game or two,” said Dobson. “We probably should have won the game against the Lions.
“It’s getting close to our strongest [team] – we are getting guys that will be available for Kimberley next week [against Griquas] like Ali Vermaak, Damian Willemse and Jaco Coetzee.
“I still think this is a strong side. If you look at that back three [Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen and Seabelo Senatla] it must be worth the ticket.”
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“The Pumas were forced into a change in their backline following their solid, but surprising win over the Sharks last weekend. Alwayno Visagie replaces the injured Henko Marais at centre, with Ruwellyn Isbell taking the vacant slot left by Visagie.
2018: Western Province won 57-28, Nelspruit
2017: Pumas won 22-12, Nelspruit
2017: Western Province won 34-19, Cape Town
2016: Western Province won 31-23, Cape Town
2015: Western Province won 50-19, Cape Town
Prediction: Western Province
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Edwill van der Merwe.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Ryan Nell (captain), 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Ashlon Davids, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Jacobus Marais, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell, 23 Morgan Naude.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
Saturday, August 10:
Sharks v Free State Cheetahs
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)
The Sharks will also enter their match against the Free State Cheetahs with their backs against the wall after one win in three outings, which will set the scene for a thrilling battle.
The Free Staters suffered a narrow two-point defeat last week, which marked their first of the season, and they will be determined to bounce back and remain on the top-end of the standings with a chance of earning a possible home semifinal as the pool stages nears a close.
The Sharks, meanwhile, know that only a victory could possibly save their campaign with two matches remaining after this round.
Their coach, Sean Everitt, has made four changes to his team – two each among the forwards and backs.
Mzamo Majola comes in for Juan Schoeman at loosehead prop, while Luke Stringer makes way for Jacques Vermeulen on the side of the scrum.
Among the backs, Aphelele Fassi takes over the fullback jersey from Rhyno Smith while Sanele Nohamba will start at scrumhalf with Cameron Wright playing off the bench.
Young Evan Roos is named on the bench, with the former SA Schools player from a year ago expected to make waves when he takes to the field for his debut.
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) August 8, 2019
“We want to win every game, that’s our goal and that should be the mindset,” said Sharks scrumhalf Cameron Wright. “Other teams have done us a few favours – the Blue Bulls and Western Province going down – and kept the Currie Cup quite open. But we have to win, we want to win all three – that’s a non-negotiable – and we need to win all three.
After Free State lost narrowly last week, Wright expects a backlash this weekend.
“They are hurting a bit and we expect them to come hard at us, particularly early on. They like to play an expansive style of play married with physicality, so if we can match them, I think we’re in for a good shot.”
For the Bloemfontein side, Clayton Blommetjies will be making his return to Currie Cup, replacing the injured Darren Adonis, while Carel-Jan Coetzee will be starting on wing. Louis Fouché replaces the injured Tian Schoeman at flyhalf.
Junior Pokomela is the No.6 flank with Abongile Nonkontwana at No.7, replacing the injured Marnus van der Merwe.
JP du Preez (lock) and Charles Marais (loosehead prop) will be in the starting line-up with Walt Steenkamp and Ox Nche playing off the bench.
2018: Sharks won 33-29, Bloemfontein
2017: Sharks won 45-15, Durban
2017: Free State Cheetahs won 47-12, Bloemfontein
2016: Free State Cheetahs won 38-30, Durban
2015: 34-34 draw, Bloemfontein
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Sitno Manjesi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dian Badenhorst / Tapiwa Mafura, 22 Ruan Pienaar
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Archie Sehlako, Blake Beattie
TMO: Christie du Preez
Golden Lions v Blue Bulls
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)
The Gauteng derby has all the ingredients for a mouth-watering encounter, with the Golden Lions going in search of their fourth successive victory, which would catapult them to the top of the standings, while the Blue Bulls have to win their last two matches with bonus points to keep alive their hopes of possibly sneaking in the top four.
Blue Bulls coach, Pote Human, was forced into five changes in his pack and named in a new captain in Ivan van Zyl.
The scrumhalf will lead the team for the first time and UP-Tuks flank, Fred Eksteen, will make his Blue Bulls and Currie Cup debut. Van Zyl takes the armband of injured Ruan Steenkamp, with Eksteen donning the six jersey.
Dayan van der Westhuizen and Johan Grobbelaar were both elevated into the starting team for injured Simphiwe Matanzima, while Grobbelaar swops places with Jaco Visagie, who reverts to the bench.
Wian Vosloo moves into the starting team as well to replace injured Marco van Staden. In a fifth change to the pack, Andries Ferreira will start at lock.
Human left the backline intact, bar the Van Zyl swop with Embrose Papier, who will play off the bench.
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Posted by Blue Bulls on Wednesday, 7 August 2019
“The injury bogey did hit us hard and that on a weekend where one would have wanted to play with all your main players fit and ready,” said Human. “That said, the likes of Fred worked hard all season and now gets the chance to show what he can do. I would not have included him in our training squad in the first place if I did not trust his abilities.
“We are now playing for pride and each player will have to show why they want to be part of this team in future.”
Van Zyl said the challenge is a huge one, but the team want to prove they belong.
“There are many if and buts when you look at our season, but ultimately the performances did not do justice to the effort of the coaching staff and the hopes of our supporters. We have two more rounds to redeem ourselves and everyone is determined to do just that and finish the season with some dignity and pride restored.”
Golden Lions coach, Ivan van Rooyen, made three changes to the starting XV that beat the Free State Cheetahs 24-22 in Bloemfontein last Friday. In the backline, Eddie Fouche replaces Jan-Louis la Grange at inside centre.
Up front, Len Massyn takes over the No.7 jersey from Vincent Tshituka and Reinhard Nothnagel comes in at lock for Wilhelm van der Sluys.
Golden Lions captain Ross Cronje said his team is bracing themselves for a desperate Bulls side.
“I definitely think they will be dangerous this weekend,” said Cronje. “They have made a couple of changes, so they are going to have a lot of guys trying to put up their hands and they are going to be extremely hungry.
“We are expecting another tough one. We are expecting a massive battle out there this weekend, but if we stick to our processes and focus on the job at hand then hopefully, we can come out on top.”
2018: Golden Lions won 38-35, Pretoria
2017: Golden Lions won 36-33, Johannesburg
2017: Blue Bulls won 54-22, Pretoria
2016: Blue Bulls won 31-17, Pretoria
2015: Golden Lions won 36-28, Pretoria
Prediction: Golden Lions
Golden Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Eddie Fouche, 11 Stean Pienaar, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (captain), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Leo Kruger, 18 Chergin Fillies, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Vincent Tshituka, 21 James Venter, 22 Dillon Smit, 23 Duncan Matthews.
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Dylan Sage, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl (captain), 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Wian Vosloo, 6 Fred Eksteen, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Dayan van der Westhuizen.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Madot Mabokela, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Jean Droste, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Stedman Gans.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Jaco Kotze
TMO: Lesego Legoete
The top-of-the-table clash between the Falcons and Jaguares XV is expected to be a cracker with both sides in good form this season, although the East Randers’ depth will be tested with a number of their players in action in an international tournament in Australia.
The Argentineans have been in superb form on attack and defence, which has seen them win all their matches with bonus points to book a berth in the semifinals.
The Falcons, however, are also unbeaten after three victories and two draws, and with the prospect of cementing their place in the semifinals with a victory dangling in front of them, they are expected to give everything on the field.
Defensively, these two teams are the best in the competition, but with the Jaguares XV boasting 319 points in their five matches, the clash will serve as a true test for the Falcon’s defence.
The clash between the SWD Eagles and EP Elephants – who are only one log point apart on the standings – is expected to be hard-fought given the fact that while a victory could place them in a good position to possibly finish the pool stage as one of the semifinalists next week, a defeat could dash their hopes completely.
Eastern Province have been superior on attack and defence this season, although SWD will consider themselves unlucky after earning one win and two draws in their five outings, which will inspire them.
Boland and the Leopards are in a similar situation, with the men from the Winelands holding a narrow one-point lead on the table going into the round. With Boland having scored 29 points more than their opponents in their five matches, they may enter the game with a mental edge, but the Leopards boast a slightly better defence, which they will want to build on in the hope of earning their third win of the season.
Interestingly, the Leopards emerged victorious in all of the matches between the sides dating back to 2013, but they will be wary of the fact that this will have no significance on matchday.
The Griffons will enter their match against the Border Bulldogs as favourites after suffering only one defeat in the competition so far, while the men from East London have yet to win a match. The hosts’ form aside, the fact that a victory may just be enough to allow the Free Staters to book a semifinal berth this weekend, is sure to inspire them even more.
Border, however, will have to tighten up their defence, in particular, to keep alive hopes of a victory after conceding 220 points in their last five matches.
First Division Round Six Fixtures:
Friday, August 9:
SWD Eagles v EP Elephants
Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT
Referee: Egon Seconds
Saturday, August 10:
Leopards v Boland Cavaliers
Venue: Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 14.30; 12.30 GMT
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Falcons v Jaguares XV
Venue: Bosman Stadium, Brakpan
Kick-off: 14.30; 12.30 GMT
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Griffons v Border Bulldogs
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Quinton Immelman