South African Preparation Series - teams and predictions
LAST CHANCE: South Africa’s four Europe-bound franchises will use this weekend for their final ‘experiments’.
As has been the case throughout the domestic series, the approaches of the teams are polar opposite.
It starts on Friday, when the Sharks host the Bulls at Kings Park, in Durban.
Saturday we have two matches – starting with Griquas at home to the Pumas, before the Stormers host the Lions at the Cape Town Stadium.
Sunday the Cheetahs get another chance to thumb their noses at SA Rugby when they are at home to the Eastern Province Elephants.
However, the significant matches are in Durban and Cape Town.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt said they will continue to work on the team’s shortcomings – such as the number of turnovers they concede – and added that he wants the players to be more clinical.
“Our set-pieces were also not consistent,” the Sharks coach said, adding: “We are looking for a better workrate from the players.
“We will be judging the players on their understanding of our game model, as well as their roles and responsibilities on the field – we are also looking for better decision-making from our game managers.”
Everitt defended the decision to send out so many of his seasoned players – including World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi – saying they didn’t play much in the first couple of weeks and need to get some ‘game time’.
The Sharks are also dealing with a few minor injuries – burly lock Le Roux Roets missing out with a neck complaint, while flyhalf Curwin Bosch injured his thumb injury at training on Wednesday (Everitt is awaiting the results of scans) and Dylan Richardson is ill.
However, he said he is “happy” with where they are in terms of squad depth.
Bulls counterpart Jake White said that with the Sharks having named a full-strength pack – including Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Henco Venter Siyamthanda Kolisi, Thomas du Toit and Retshegofaditswe Nche – he expects the home team to throw everything but the kitchen sink at his team.
“It will be a great test for us,” White said, adding: “It is a great opportunity for us to see how this group of players go.”
He pointed to the value of the Preparation Series as an opportunity to test depth, given the lack of subsidiary competitions to give fringe players game time.
“These Preparation games have been fantastic for me, because I have been able to try out different combinations.
“Unfortunately we are expecting rain, so maybe it won’t be as free-flowing as everyone would like.
“However, that adds another dimension to how we manage the game.”
(Continue below video …)
It will be much the same in Cape Town – where the Stormers and Lions will continue with some ‘fine-tuning’.
Lions coach Ivan van Zyl said you can always expect a good set-piece game from the Stormers.
“However, they have shown more enterprise on attack in the last three games.
“They showed a willingness to throw the ball around, which makes them even more dangerous.”
Stormers coach John Dobson, who has taken a backseat during the Preparation Series and allowed his assistants to take the reins, spoke the more pragmatic approach they have shown this year.
“We chose to fix our territory and kicking game, which by its nature is unattractive,” he said of their tactics in the Currie Cup.
“We always said in this Preparation Series we are going to play a bit more of the type of rugby the befits this region, but on the basis that we are in the right parts of the field,” Dobson added.
“We are starting to see that come through, hopefully even more on Saturday.
“The game we played during the Currie Cup doesn’t befit this region and nor is it what the players want to play.
“We need to be more pragmatic if we are going to go to Connacht in the mud on a Friday night.”
* Griquas coach Scott Mathie was happy to reflect on the progress his team has made, as he looked towards the arrival of the Pumas in the wake of their first win of the year – a shut-out of the Eastern Province Elephants last week.
“If we can take the energy from the win over the EP Elephants into this Pumas game and get a solid performance, we will achieve our goals,” Mathie told @rugby365com.
“The key is the development of this group of players – where we come from and where we are going.
“I can see an upwards trajectory. It is important that we continue that [improvement].”
He said they know what to expect from the Pumas, having lost to them in the Super Rugby unlocked and Currie Cup competitions.
“I felt we lacked a bit of urgency and our reaction were off in the two games we played,” Mathie said, adding: “Our execution also let us down.
“The Pumas, as always, is a physical and abrasive team.”
* Meanwhile the battered and bruised Elephants players held an emergency meeting this week in a desperate bid to end their disastrous return to South Africa’s top flight.
According to a report on the HeraldLIVE website, the players decided that “enough is enough” as they bid to win back lost pride against the Cheetahs.
After heavy defeats against the Bulls, Lions and Griquas, the under-pressure EP players held their own meeting without coach Peter de Villiers ahead of Sunday’s clash in Bloemfontein.
All the Teams and predictions below the video!
Friday, March 26
Sharks v Bulls
(Kings Park, Durban – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Sharks by eight points
Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Rynhardt Jonker, 23 Aphelele Fassi
Bulls: 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Dawid Kellerman, 11 Diego Appollis, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements – from: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Jay-Cee Nel, 24 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 25 Reinhardt Ludwig, 26 Bernard van der Linde, 27 Niel Beukes.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Ashleigh Murray
TMO: Stuart Berry
Saturday, March 27
Griquas v Pumas
(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00)
@rugby365com: Griquas by five points
Griquas: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 James Verity-Amm, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Stefan Ungerer (captain), 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Andries Schutte, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Nqobisizwe Mxoli.
Replacements – from: 16 Hendrik Luus, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Tijde Visser, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 Sibabalo Qoma, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Johnathan Francke, 23 Enver Brandt, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Tiaan van der Merwe, 26 Reagan Oranje.
Pumas squad: Morgan Naude, Jaco Willemse, Simon Westraadt, Pieter van Vuren (captain), Marné Coetzee, Willie Engelbrecht, Daniel Maartens, Francois Kleinhans, Khwezi Mafu, Kwanda Dimaza, Brandon Valentin, Ignasias Prinsloo, Dewald Maritz, Hendrik van Schoor, Phumzile Maqondwana, Devon Williams, Ali Mgijima, Tapiwa Mafura, Erich Cronje, Eddie Fouche, Etienne Taljaard, Ginter Smuts, Wayne van der Bank, Chriswill September, Sebastian de Klerk.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, Mpho Matsaung
TMO: Rasta Rasivhenge
Stormers v Lions
(Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town – Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)
@rugby365com: Stormers by 12 points
Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Abner van Reenen, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Neethling Fouché, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements – from: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Kade Wolhuter, 23 Lyle Hendricks, 24 Chad Solomon, 25 Cornel Smit.
Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Ross Croné, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Burger Odendaal.
Referee: Adriaan Jacobs
Assistant referees: Divan Uys, Dylan November
TMO: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Sunday, March 28
Cheetahs v Eastern Province Elephants
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by 30 points
Cheetahs: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Chris Smit, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Marcell Muller, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Teboho Mohoje (captain), 6 Chris Massyn, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Alulutho Tsakweni.
Replacements: 16 Janus Venter, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Gideon van Wyk, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Ruan Pienaar, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.
Eastern Province: 15 Courtney Winnaar, 14 Xolela Payi, 13 Athi Mayinye, 12 Sherwin Slater, 11 Josia Twum-Boafo, 10 Inny Radebe (captain), 9 Ethan Jantjies, 8 Luigy van Jaarsveld, Anele Lungisa, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 Arnold Kleyn, 4 Athenkosi Khetani, 3 Marzuq Maarman, 2 Robin Stevens, 1 Siya Nzuzo.
Replacements: 16 Sithembiso Befile, 17 Lyle Lombaard, 18 Emile Klassen, 19 Ntsika Fisante, 20 Diego Williams, 21 Sachin Toring, 22 Divian Swanepoel, 23 Lennox Holster.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, Mpho Matsaung
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni