As we enter Round 5 of the 2013 Currie Cup, there is still no clear indication as to who is the favourite team to win it this year.
The Sharks currently set the pace with 14 Log points, but they are closely followed by 2nd place Free State Cheetahs and 3rd place Western Province both on 12.
Can Western Province take the crown two years in a row and / or can the Blue Bulls still make a great comeback. Only time will tell!
Here’s a Preview of the weekend’s matches:
Golden Lions vs Griquas
GWK Park, Kimberley
k/o – 15:00
Referee: Jason Jaftha, Assistant referees: Tiaan Jonker, Nico Schmahl, TMO: Johan Greeff
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Robert de Bruyn, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie (Captain), 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Ruan Venter, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Griquas: 15 PJ Vermeulen, 14 Richard Lawson, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Victor Kruger, 4 Patrick O’Brien, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ryno Barnes (Captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Dalton Davis, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 JP Nel.
Since 2010 these sides have met 6 times, both having won 3 times. This fixture usually delivers a high score with the winning side usually scoring 30 points plus. Both these teams find themselves on the bottom half of the Log, the Golden Lions with 9 Log points and the Griquas with 6. The Golden Lions do however have a point to prove after missing this years SuperRugby and after a draw last weekend against WP. On the other hand the Griquas in Kimberley is always going to be difficult. The Golden Lions should however have the edge and take this by about 5 points and a score close to 33 – 28.
Blue Bulls vs Free State Cheetahs
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
k/o – 17:05
Referee: Stuart Berry, Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Cobus Wessels, TMO: Tappe Henning with W Vos in training
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Jono Ross (Captain), 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg,5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Ulrich Beyers, 22 Clayton Blommetjies / Tiaan Schoeman
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo (Captain), 5 Lodewyk De Jager, 4 Teboho Mohoje, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian Du Preez, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Willie Du Plessis, 22 Piet Lindeque.
The Blue Bulls find themselves in a bit of a pickle this season, with a lot of players moving to Europe and some players at the Springboks, so they were forced to rely on younger and more inexperienced players that have not yet found their rhythm as a team. The Free State Cheetahs on the other hand are sitting with a lot less worries as they have lost minimal players to Springbok duty, which means they are almost fielding the same side they had in Super Rugby. The Free State Cheetahs edged this clash since 2010, having played 6 matches against the Blue Bulls and winning 3, losing 2 and drawing once. This is usually a close affair and ends within a 7 point margin. But unless the young Blue Bulls click as a unit this weekend it could turn out to be a long weekend for them. The Free State Cheetahs should take this one with a score close to 30 – 15.
Western Province vs Sharks
Newlands, Cape Town
k/o – 19:10
Referee: Craig Joubert
DHL Western Province team: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder (Vice-captain), 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie (Captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
Sharks Team: 15 SP Marais, 14 Sizo Maseko, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Butch James *, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8. Jacques Botes (Captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Danie Mienie
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahan Herbst, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Jaco van Tonder.
This is the only match this weekend where both teams find themselves in the top half of the Log and it could also be a decider for which team will be at the top after this weekend. With the luck WP has had this season, it will most probably end in a draw in the range of 21-21, but this is highly unlikely. These team have met 8 times since 2010 including 2 Currie Cup Finals, the Sharks however edge this one having won 5 out of the last 8 encounters. The Sharks have won 3 out of 4 games this year while WP have only won 2 and drawn 2. This could turn out to be an exiting game as is always the case between these two sides. WP has the home ground advantage, this should count in their favour and if they can manage to play an 80 minute attacking game and not only 40 they should edge the Sharks. It is unlikely that this game will serve up a high score and it is doubtfull that either team will go above 20 points. With home ground advantage WP should take this with a score close to 19 – 15.