What a final round of Currie Cup rugby this is turning out to be. At one end of the table we have the Sharks and Western Province battling each other for the number one spot and at the other end we have the Free State Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls playing for the final semi final spot.
The Golden Lions are also by no means safe. If they lose to the Griquas and do not score any bonus points and the Blue Bulls manage a win, then the Golden Lions could find themselves in 5th place. This does not seem likely, taking current form into account.
This is the last weekend of the pool stages and it is turning into a quasi-play-off weekend, with the top two teams battling for 1st place and 3 teams competing for the last two semi final spots. What more can we ask for.
Here’s a Preview of the weekend’s matches:
Golden Lions vs Griquas
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
12 October 2013
k/o – 15:00
Golden Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Andries Coetzee, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie (Captain), 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Lambert Groenewald, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronjé 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Kobus de Kock.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Du Randt Gerber, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Jaco Nepgen, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Rynhard Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse (captain), 2 Matthew Dobson, 1 Janro van Niekerk.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Dalton Davis, 19 Patrick O’Brien, 20 Enrico Acker, 21 JP Nel, 22 Logan Basson.
A loss in this game for the Golden Lions without scoring a bonus point could see them move into 5th place, but only if the Bulls beat the Cheetahs. This outcome is highly unlikely as the Griquas are fielding a weakened team, resting key players for their upcoming promotion / relegation matches. These teams have met 7 times since 2010, including their clash earlier this year, the Golden Lions have won 4 of these encounters and have an edge over the Griquas. This clash is usually entertaining as both these teams like running the ball and in good weather we could see quite a big score. The Golden Lions should win by at least 5 points and a score line close to 34-29.
Free State Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
12 October 2013
k/o – 17:05
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagné, 6 Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Freddie Ngoza, 19 Teboho Mohoje, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Willie du Plessis.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross (Captain), 5 David Bullbring, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Francois Venter, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.
The Blue Bulls need a bonus point victory over the Free State Cheetahs and they need to prevent the Free State Cheetahs any bonus points if they want to go to the semi finals. Beating the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein is no easy task and with all the Sprngboks back the Free State Cheetahs will have the upper hand in the scrums. In history it would suggest the Blue Bulls should have the edge in this clash, but taking into consideration the changes at the Blue Bulls, it has played a massive role in their performance this year. They also have a Springbok center pair returning from Springbok duty, so the question is whether this could help to settle them down. These teams have met 7 times since 2010, including their clash earlier this year with both teams winning 3 matches and drawing once in 2011. The scores suggest that this match should also end in a draw with a score line close to 24-24.
Sharks vs Western Province
Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
12 October 2013
k/o – 19:10
The Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (Captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst *, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Jacques Botes **, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Louis Ludik.
DHL Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie (Captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Frans Malherbe, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Jean de Villiers.
The is the clash of the weekend. These teams have already booked their places in the semi finals 2 or 3 weeks ago and both these teams have shown good form. Both these teams have won 7 out of 9 matches this year. Both teams also received quite a few Springboks back, returning from international duty, which could make this clash even more impressive. These teams have met each other 9 times since 2010 including their clash earlier this year and including finals in both 2010 and 2012. The Sharks edge the stats by having won 5 of the previous 9 encounters. It does seem likely that this clash will go down to the wire, however all in all the Sharks should take this one with a score line close to 24-21.