PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Two
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The cut-throat nature of the Currie Cup this year means there is no place for slip-ups and the Blue Bulls and Sharks will be acutely aware of that when they host the Free State Cheetahs and Western Province this weekend.
At the same time, Griquas will be aiming to forge ahead on the log when they take on the dangerous Pumas in Kimberley.
Two matches – in Kimberley and Pretoria – are scheduled for Friday, while the big clash in Durban, a replay of last year’s superb Final, will be played on Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Lions have a bye.
We take a closer look at all Round Two’s fixtures!
Friday, July 19
Griquas v Pumas
(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT)
For Springbok wing Bjorn Basson the Currie Cup Premier Division match at Griqua Park in Kimberley will be a homecoming of sorts, as that is where he took his first strides in senior rugby, 11 years ago.
The speedy wing scored 47 tries in 56 matches for Griquas between 2008 and 2010, before his travels took him to Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
The 21 Currie Cup tries Basson scored in the peacock-blue jersey in 2010 is still the record for the most five-pointers by a player in one season.
Griquas will be hoping he can build on this when he gets a run off the bench against the Pumas on Friday, as a win will strengthen their position at the top of the standings.
After their heartbreaking defeat in Johannesburg last weekend, the Pumas have made only one personnel change to their team, with Henko Marais starting at inside centre.
They also welcome back the experienced front row duo of Simon Westraadt and De-Jay Terblanche on the bench.
2018: Pumas won 42-19, Nelspruit
2017: Griquas won 38-35, Nelspruit
2017: Pumas won 27-21, Kimberley
2016: Griquas won 41-35, Nelspruit
2015: Griquas won 32-15, Kimberley
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 Gideon van der Merwe, 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 Momson, 19 Zandre Jordaan, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Ryan Nell (captain), 12 Henko Marais, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Carel du Preez, 6 Jeandré Rudolph, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ashlon Davids, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Alwayno Visagie, 23 Morgan Naude.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Johre Botha
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe
Blue Bulls v Free State Cheetahs
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.15; 17.15 GMT)
In Pretoria, the Blue Bulls will put the disappointment of last weekend’s defeat in Cape Town behind them as they look for their first log points against the Free State Cheetahs, who started with a bye in the opening round.
The home team were bolstered with the arrival of Springbok loose forward Marco van Staden, who has been included on the bench, while Wiehahn Herbst’s return to the front row – he missed last weekend’s match due to family commitments – will bolster their scrum.
The Free Staters will rock up at Loftus Versfeld with four former Blue Bulls players in their backline, which has a dangerous look to it. Louis Fouche (fullback), William Small-Smith (wing), Dries Swanepoel (centre) and Tiaan Schoeman (flyhalf) will all have a point to prove in front of their former home crowd.
Three players will also be making their debuts in the colours of the Free State Cheetahs – locks Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi, and Darren Adonis (replacement back).
“We need to be at our best,” said Blue Bulls head coach Pote Human. “The Cheetahs will be well-rested and have some really good players available.
“They will be very keen to get their season starting. We have to start well, keep playing well and finish well in this one. We created some chances last week, but with some of our phases not functioning as it should have, we never really managed to force dominance. That needs to change this weekend.”
Blue Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said the focus will be on themselves, rather than the opponent.
“We spoke about the errors made last weekend and how to make them right. We all agreed on how to do that, so it is now a matter of going out there and execute the type of game we know we can play.”
2018: Blue Bulls won 34-12, Bloemfontein
2017: Blue Bulls won 64-36, Bloemfontein
2017: Free State Cheetahs won 41-40, Pretoria
2016: Free State Cheetahs won 36-16, Bloemfontein (Final)
2016: Free State Cheetahs won 43-20, Bloemfontein
Prediction: Blue Bulls
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Roelof Smit, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Andries Ferreira, 4 Ruan Nortje, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Dylan Sage.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Louis Fouche, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tiaan Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Dian Badenhorst, 23 Darren Adonis.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Christoper Allison
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
Saturday, July 20
Sharks v Western Province
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 14.00; 12.00 GMT)
The Sharks side named to take on Western Province in Durban on Saturday has just one change as the coaching staff look to grow and develop the team without disruption.
Rhyno Smith moves up from the bench and will start at fullback, while Aphelele Fassi has been named amongst the replacements.
WP have also decided not to tweak their team too much, and as such Springbok tourist JD Schickerling will start on the side of the scrum in the only change to their team.
Schickerling comes into the starting line-up at blindside flank, with Ernst van Rhyn shifting to openside and Jaco Coetzee at No.8 in place of the injured Juarno Augustus.
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) July 18, 2019
Derby matches between the Sharks and Western Province have always been massive tussles and Sharks prop Juan Schoeman expects nothing different on Saturday.
“It’s always a physical battle upfront – they outscrummed the Bulls – and they have fluid backs, we need to make sure we give our best performance and play to our strengths as well,” said Schoeman.
“We believe we are a better team than how we played against Griquas. We got a shock and need to make sure that we use it as a learning curve for the next battle.”
Western Province assistant coach Norman Laker is expecting an angry Sharks team after what happened in Round One.
“They will definitely bounce back this coming Saturday, so it’s going to be a tough Sharks outfit,” said Laker.
“At the moment it is still early days and we are focussing more on ourselves than the opponent because I don’t think we are the finished product yet.”
2018: Sharks won 17-12, Cape Town (Final)
2018: Western Province won 50-28, Cape Town
2017: Western Province won 33-21, Durban (Final)
2017: Western Province won 31-20, Durban
2017: Sharks won 21-20, Cape Town
Prediction: Western Province
Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (co-captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-captain), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Western Province: 15 SP Marais, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (capt), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Vusi Msibi
TMO: Marius Jonker
First Division, Round Three
The Jaguares XV are looking to continue their dream start in the First Division when they travel to East London to face Border in the third round of the competition on Saturday.
The Argentineans won both their opening matches in commanding fashion and could find their first visit to Police Park a fruitful one if they continue with their attacking displays that yielded them 14 tries so far.
Border will find them hard to repel if they don’t up their own defensive efforts, having conceded 10 tries in their two matches already. They would back their chances on attack though, as the Potchefstroom-based side have conceded eight tries so far, providing a potential chink in their armour for future opponents.
The early match will take the EP Elephants and Boland to Caledon, home of former Springbok flyhalf Errol Tobias, with both sides looking for a win, albeit for different reasons.
EP will be desperate for a first win to start an early comeback of sorts, while the home side would have been working hard on their missing defensive effort. Boland’s defence in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge was rock solid, but they have already leaked 10 tries, the most in the competition along with Border and the Griffons.
The latter will be looking to cash in on their try-scoring abilities at home, but will find in the SWD Eagles a team that don’t mind playing away from home.
The men from George drew with the Falcons up in Gauteng two weeks ago and clearly do not mind travelling north for a crack at their opponents at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium. In Shario Rosenkrantz (wing), the Eagles have the leading try-scorer in the competition.
The Jaquares XV, SWD and Falcons are the only teams with a positive points’ difference at this stage, but that could change when the Gauteng side take the N12 down to Potchefstroom to face the ever-improving Leopards at Olën Park.
The home side will be boosted by the likes of Eugene Hare and Lungelo Gosa, who represented the SA Students Sevens team in Italy a week ago, as well as SA Rugby Sevens Academy representative Luwi Mngadi, and will need that spark to get into the top four on the log.
The Falcons have shown some good attacking skills this year and this match could prove to be highly entertaining and very competitive, as matches between these two teams inevitably tend to be.
First Division Round Three fixtures:
Saturday, July 20
Boland v EP Elephants
Venue: Caledon Sports Grounds, Caledon
Kick-off: 14.30; 12.30 GMT
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Leopards v Falcons
Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Ruhan Meiring
Griffons v SWD
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Divan Uys
Border v Jaguares XV
Venue: Police Park, East London
Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT
Referee: Griffin Colby