PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Six
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The trials and tribulations of being a Currie Cup Premier Division coach will be highlighted in dramatic fashion this weekend in Round Six of the competition as the teams take a step closer to knowing their fortunes in the penultimate pool round.
The action will be spread over the weekend with Griquas facing Western Province in Kimberley on Friday, the Pumas hosting the Free State Cheetahs in Nelspruit on Saturday, and the Golden Lions taking on the Sharks in Johannesburg on Sunday.
These results will also undoubtedly extend the agony of the Blue Bulls, who will have to watch how things play out for their season while they have a bye.
Things could not be closer at the top of the table, with the Golden Lions and Griquas not only sharing first place with 15 points, but also boasting the same points’ difference (0).
The next two teams on the log both have 12 points, but the Free State Cheetahs (+61) currently have a better points’ difference than Western Province (+39).
The Blue Bulls (9) have a bye this weekend and could be bumped into the wooden spoon position by the Pumas (8), should the latter earn a valuable win at home.
We take a closer look at all Round Six’s fixtures.
Friday, August 16:
Griquas v Western Province
(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 19.15; 17.15)
Friday’s clash, between Griquas and Western Province in Kimberley, is expected to set the tone for the weekend.
Griquas had a bye last weekend and will be pretty fresh and ready for the Cape onslaught.
Coach Brent Janse van Rensburg rewarded the squad that subdued the Blue Bulls two weeks ago, making only one tactical change, with veteran Zandre Jordaan coming in at flank as the men from Kimberley look to impose themselves at the breakdown.
Western Province coach John Dobson, meanwhile, was forced into making four changes due to Springbok call-ups.
Chad Solomon replaces Scarra Ntubeni, Ernst van Rhyn comes in for Siya Kolisi, Dillyn Leyds is replaced by SP Marais and Wilco Louw by Carlu Sadie.
Hooker Schalk Erasmus is set to make his WP debut from the bench, with lock David Meihuizen and scrumhalf Paul de Wet also coming into the matchday 23, as well as Damian Willemse who returns from injury.
Dobson said that his team have embraced the challenge of going up to Kimberley and putting in a big performance.
“We know that we will have to work incredibly hard if we are going to get the result we want in Kimberley, so there will certainly be no lack of motivation.
“We have lost a few good players, but we also have some very talented players coming back, so we are looking forward to seeing what they can do up there,” he said.
2018: Western Province won 38-12, Cape Town
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
Prediction: Western Province
Griquas: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Zandre Jordaan, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Johan Momsen, 19 Gideon van der Merwe, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Chris Smit, 22 Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Western Province: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 John Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Edwill van der Merwe.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Jaco Kotze
TMO: Lesego Legoete
Saturday, August 17:
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT)
Saturday’s clash in Nelspruit will be equally telling. The Mbombela Stadium was good to the Pumas last time around and they will feel confident in their abilities to beat anyone coming to the Lowveld.
The Free State Cheetahs, on the other hand, had a dip in results after winning their opening two matches and will be determined to stop sliding, but they will be wary of the fact that they cannot give the home side any opportunities to get their power game going.
Pumas coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, named Luther Obi on the wing and re-jigged his loose trio from last weekend. Obi started the season with the Southern Kings, but he now runs free in the Lowveld and could be a factor against his old teammates. Carel du Preez comes into the loose trio and Jeandre Rudolph moves to the openside, while Willie Engelbrecht will start at the back of the scrum.
Former Sharks prop, Ngonidzashe Chidoma, will play off the bench.
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) August 15, 2019
Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith brought in Ruan Pienaar in at scrumhalf and moved regular captain, Tian Meyer, to the left wing, while William Small-Smith returns to the other wing.
The loose trio is also new with Gerhard Olivier and Junior Pokomela being named as the flanks, with Abongile Nonkontwana providing cover on the bench.
Smith also rotated Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi, with Steenkamp starting, while Jacques du Toit will be the starting hooker, with Joseph Dweba coming off the bench.
At prop, Schalk van der Merwe replaces the injured Charles Marais.
2018: Pumas won 42-14, Bloemfontein
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: 37-37 draw, Nelspruit
Prediction: Free State Cheetahs
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Henko Marais, 11. Luther Obi, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Ashlon Davids, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Carel du Preez, 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 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 Terblance, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ginter Smits, 21 Jaco Marais, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell, 23 Ngonidzashe Chidoma.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Tian Meyer (captain), 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sitnu Manjesi, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dian Badenhorst, 22 Tapiwa Mafura.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Eduan Nel
TMO: Christie du Preez
Sunday, August 18:
Golden Lions v Sharks
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT)
Sunday’s clash between the Golden Lions and Sharks will have all the credentials of a humdinger. Both teams have real purpose and the hunger and ability to lift the Cup again, while they both have enough players of real quality to turn the game on its head.
Sharks coach, Sean Everitt, has not been shy to dip into his youth ranks and is doing so again this weekend. He named uncapped flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain in the team, as regular flyhalf Curwin Bosch has a lower back sprain.
Everitt last week gave Evan Roos a run with the seniors and of course already handed Junior Springbok scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba a starting berth, so Chamberlain will find some comfort in having his fellow national age-group player on his inside after playing for the SA U20’s on their UK tour earlier this year.
Another Junior Bok, Dylan Richardson, comes onto the bench as back-up to Kerron van Vuuren at hooker, and John-Hubert Meyer will start at tighthead prop in place of the injured Coenie Oosthuizen. Utility back Leolin Zas has also been drafted onto the bench as cover for the injured Marius Louw.
Everitt will be asking for his charges to follow the standard they set last week against Free State where they showed incredible composure in the face of huge pressure to win.
“It was a tough game – we expected it against Free State – but we focused on what we needed to do and I never felt during the game that we would lose even though we were put under pressure,” explains Sharks lock Hyron Andrews. “But we stuck to our guns and the guys showed a lot of composure to pull it through.”
Team Release Press Conference
Posted by The Sharks on Thursday, 15 August 2019
Andrews admits that while there is pressure on the team, given how short and tight the competition is this year, they’re in a good mental space and excited for the challenge ahead.
“Every game in the Currie Cup has been like a play-off game, every match is important, and I expect nothing less than a high tempo game and a very tough one on Sunday.
“But we’ve prepared well this week and we’re looking forward to it.”
Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen, who has been fielding young sides all year, is expected to name his team on Friday afternoon due to a number of injury concerns.
Vincent Tshituka and Stean Pienaar have low-grade AC injuries, Johannes Jonker a calf injury, and Jan Louis la Grange and Manni Rass are on a Return To Play programme after suffering concussion, although Jacobie Adriaanse and Cyle Brink are likely to be declared fit.
2018: Sharks won 37-21, Durban
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
Prediction: Golden Lions
Golden Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Manni Rass, 11 Stean Pienaar, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Marnus Schoeman, 22 Dillon Smit, 23 Duncan Matthews.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (co-captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-captain), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 Leolin Zas.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Christopher Allison
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
A dramatic – and for some distressing – weekend awaits the eight teams in the First Division as the final round of pool matches is set to deliver joy for four teams and despair for the rest.
The Jaquares XV have already clinched top spot on the standings and will host one of next weekend’s semifinals at the Fanie du Toit Sports Fields in Potchefstroom.
The scramble for the other home semifinal, and the battle for the final three remaining play-off places, however, will guarantee a tightly contested round this weekend.
All of the Griffons, Falcons, EP Elephants and Leopards are still in the running to host the other semifinal, while the Boland Cavaliers and SWD Eagles could sneak into fourth spot if results go their way.
The Welkom side are best placed with 22 log points, but they travel down to the West Coast, where the Boland Cavaliers will take them on at the Saldanha Stadium in Saldanha Bay.
The home side, on 12 log points, have a remote chance of sneaking into fourth place, provided that the EP Elephants and Leopards both lose without a bonus point, while SWD also have to suffer a defeat, so they will be desperate to not only thrill their home fans in what could be their last match of the year at home, but also keep alive their slim hopes.
They will know on Friday evening already if there will be anything to play for when the Leopards take on the Jaguares XV in Potchefstroom. If the Leopards earn a win or secure two bonus points, it will be tickets for Boland and defending champions, the SWD Eagles.
The Eagles have a trip to East London, where the Border Bulldogs await on Saturday. The home side is the only one not to have won a match in the competition, meaning they will have all the motivation they need to create an upset at Police Park.
For SWD, the same applies as with Boland. They really need lady luck to smile at them with the other results, while they have to win away from home to extend their season and have a shot at defending their title.
The Falcons, despite last weekend’s drubbing at the hands of the South Americans, remain in the race. They need just one point from the match, although a win will secure their top-four status.
They travel down to Despatch where the EP Elephants will run-out also knowing exactly what they need to do to make it into the top four.
A win for EP will be enough, but should the Leopards surprise in Potch and either Boland or SWD pull a rabbit out of the hat, a bonus point might be necessary.
All this will make for a highly entertaining match as both sides will be keen to score four tries for a bonus point.
Currie Cup First Division Fixtures:
Friday, August 16:
Jaguares XV v Leopards
Venue: Fanie du Toit Stadium, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT
Referee: Paul Mente
Saturday, August 17:
Boland Cavaliers v Griffons
Venue: Saldanha Stadium, Saldanha Bay
Kick-off: 14.30; 12.30 GMT
Referee: Stuart Berry
Border Bulldogs v SWD Eagles
Venue: Police Park, East London
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Griffon Colby
EP Elephants v Falcons
Venue: Callie de Wet Stadium, Despatch
Kick-off: 16.00; 14.00 GMT
Referee: Egon Seconds