PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Six
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Six members of the Springbok squad that recently returned from Australasia will feature in the Currie Cup this weekend.
Springbok squad members Ross Cronje (Golden Lions), Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Damian Willemse (Western Province) will wear their provincial colours this week in the Currie Cup.
Another two Springboks who were on the plane back from Down Under on Sunday, Marco van Staden and Embrose Papier, will be in action for the Blue Bulls Presidents XV in Windhoek on Saturday, as they have a Currie Cup bye this weekend.
The main match-ups of the weekend will be in Durban and Cape Town respectively on Saturday, where the unbeaten Sharks host the Golden Lions, and Western Province – also undefeated – meet Griquas.
We chatted to @CellC Sharks young flyer, Aphelele Fassi, ahead of #OurSharks game against the Xerox Golden @LionsRugbyCo. He is looking forward to the fierce encounter taking place at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday.
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) September 20, 2018
We take a closer look at all the Round Six matches!
Friday, September 21:
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)
Friday’s clash between the Free State Cheetahs and Pumas will mark the Free Staters’ final game of the season, as they have already been knocked out of the semifinal race.
Despite this, the men from Bloemfontein are expected to be fired up to earn a victory after going down in all five of their pool matches so far.
The Cheetahs are desperate to avoid going through an entire season without a single win.
It will be the first time in more than a century that the Cheetahs have failed to win a single Currie Cup game in a season.
Back in 1894 they lost all three their matches in the competition and in 1898 they lost all four fixtures.
They will face a strong challenge from the Pumas, who will look to bounce back strongly from three successive defeats to keep alive their faint semifinal hopes.
The Free State Cheetahs made three personnel changes to their side, with Elandre Huggett, Dennis Visser and Jannes Snyman being drafted into the starting line-up, while young prop Morgan Naude will make his Pumas debut in a team that also features Jeandré Rudolph.
2017: Free State Cheetahs won 33-32, Bloemfontein
2017: Free State Cheetahs won 45-34, Nelspruit
2016: Free State Cheetahs won 52-10, Nelspruit
2015: 37-all draw, Nelspruit
2014: Pumas won Bloemfontein
Prediction: The Pumas will add to the Cheetahs’ woes and win by seven points.
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 Daniel Maartens, 7 Jannes Snyman, 6 Abongile Nonkontwana, 5 Louis Conradie, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Reinach Venter, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Johan Kotze.
Replacements: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Stephan van Schalkwyk, 18 Nardus Erasmus, 19 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Reinhardt Erwee, 22 Maputa Dolo.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams; 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel; 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer; 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (captain), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg,1 Morgan Naudé.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse and Jaco Kotze
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe
Saturday, September 22:
Sharks v Golden Lions
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)
The Sharks will have their sights on cementing their semifinal spot with a victory in their last round-robin home game. But they will face a Golden Lions side hurting from a disappointing defeat last week, and who will also be assured of a semifinal spot if they win.
The Durbanites have a solid track record against the Johannesburg outfit in Durban where they have suffered only one defeat since 2008.
Ross Cronje will lead the Golden Lions, which features a new-look front row as Pieter Jansen and Johannes Jonker scrum down with Sti Sithole, while the Sharks included Thomas du Toit and Curwin Bosch in their run-on team, while another Bok, Coenie Oosthuizen, has been drafted onto the bench.
“Looking at the Lions, they have experienced players, a number of Springboks in their squad which is similar to our side, but if, like Western Province who capitalised on the Lions mistakes last weekend, we do the same, then we should have a good game,” said Sharks back Aphelele Fassi.
Meanwhile, Lions loose forward Len Massyn knows that the Sharks are a physical side up front. However, that has not been the Lions’ focus this week.
“You have to focus on yourself and not too much on them,” he told reporters in Johannesburg
“We just have to focus on our strengths.”
2017: Sharks won 24-10, Durban
2017: Sharks won 47-31, Johannesburg
2016: Golden Lions won 28-16, Johannesburg
2015: Golden Lions won 26-18, Johannesburg
2015: Golden Lions won 31-16, Durban
Prediction: The Golden Lions will walk away with a five-point win.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (captain), 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Ruben van Heerden, 19 Jacques Vermeulen, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Sibusiso Nkosi, 22 Aphelele Fassi.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje (captain), 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Reinhard Nothnagel, 19 Driaan Bester, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Wandisile Simelane.
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Archie Sehlako, Blake Beattie
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Western Province v Griquas
(Newlands Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 19.30; 17.30 GMT)
In Cape Town, Western Province will target a strong start against Griquas, while the opposition will look to build momentum after their first win.
The visitors will draw inspiration from the fact that they have matched the hosts 21 tries so far this season, but they need to tighten up their defence significantly to earn their first away-win against the Capetonians dating back to pre-1996.
Western Province named all four returning Springboks in their starting team, with Damian Willemse at fullback, while another former national player, JJ Engelbrecht, is on the left wing.
Griquas’ six changes sees Junior Springbok scrumhalf Zak Burger earn a start in a side a new front row of Devon Martinus, Khwezi Mkhafu and Nicolaas Oosthuizen.
“Griquas will always be tough and that’s a given, but ultimately we want to focus on our processes,” said Western Province kicking coach Gareth Wright.
“This is about our team getting better. We’ve had three good victories and we would like to continue that trend, but we need to make sure that the players are better prepared by the time Saturday comes around.
“We would like to put in a performance worthy of our fans at Newlands.”
2017: Western Province won 55-27, Cape Town
2017: Griquas won 44-34, Kimberley
2016: Western Province won 52-31, Kimberley
2015: Western Province won 33-15, Cape Town
2015: Western Province won 43-19, Kimberley
Prediction: Western Province will win by 30 points or more.
Western Province: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Dan du Plessis, 22 Dillyn Leyds.
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (captain), 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Conway Pretorius, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Eital Bredenkamp, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 FP Pelser, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Khwezi Mkhafu, 1 Devon Martinus.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 21 Wendal Wehr, 22 Christopher Bosch.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Ruhan Meiring, Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
Currie Cup First Division
The Currie Cup First Division will deliver its fair share of action, as the Leopards look to stretch their unbeaten run, while the pressure rises significantly for the Boland Cavaliers and Border Bulldogs in their penultimate pool matches.
In Potchefstroom, the Leopards will have their sights set on earning their fourth victory in a row and reclaiming the top spot on the log and after last week’s bye when they take on the Border Bulldogs on Friday.
With the visitors high on confidence following back-to-back wins, the Leopards will have to hit their straps from the outset. Border will also draw motivation from the fact that they came within four points or less of beating the Leopards in their three encounters.
The bottom-of-the-table clash between Eastern Province and Griffons in Port Elizabeth on Saturday will be fuelled by desperation as both teams give everything to earn their first victory of the season. Both sides have their backs against the wall, as they have to win their three remaining matches to keep alive their slim hopes of advancing to the semifinal, which could result in a spectacle.
The desire for semifinal berths and a possible home semifinal, meanwhile, will be the driving force when the Boland Cavaliers host the Falcons in Lamberts Bay on Saturday. The men from Kempton Park are currently in third place on the standings, one point ahead of Boland, and a victory for either side could launch them into the top two on the log.
First Division Round Five fixtures:
Friday, September 21:
Leopards v Border Bulldogs
Venue: Fanie du Toit Sports Ground, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Referees: Stephan Geldenhuys and local appointment
Saturday, September 22:
Eastern Province v Griffons
Venue: Despatch Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Local appointments
Boland Cavaliers v Falcons
Venue: Lamberts Bay Sports Grounds, Lamberts Bay
Kick-off: 16.00; 14.00 GMT
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Local appointments