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Currie Cup

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SuperBru LogoRound 2 of The Rugby Championship and Round 3 of the Currie Cup is done and dusted!

No real surprises with the results, except the huge margin the All Blacks smashed the Wallabies by, and the fact that the Bokke hardly scraped their way to a 2 point win.

The Springboks have struggled in Argentina the past three years, but most pundits thought the Bokke would at least still be closer to a 10 point margin better than the Pumas, even on a bad day.

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Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Flyhalf Joshua Stander will earn a first senior start for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the 2014 Absa Currie Cup when the home team face DHL Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The 20-year old former Queens College player was bracketed with Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who failed a fitness test.

Stander has played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-21 side in the Absa Provincial Championship this season and was an unused replacement in the victory against the EP Kings last weekend.
Stander will be one of four changes to the side that won against the Kings.

The flyhalf will come in for Tony Jantjies (concussion), while Piet van Zyl (for Rudy Paige – bench), Callie Visagie (for Bongi Mbonambi – bench)) and Werner Kruger (for Marcel van der Merwe – Springboks) will return to the run-on team.

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Deon Stegmann

Blue Bulls captain Deon Stegmann

The Blue Bulls will be in the rare position of underdog when they host Western Province at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria on Saturday.

Only a fortnight ago, Province scored a 41-17 victory over the Light Blues in Cape Town.

Two weeks in rugby was a long time though, and the Bulls had since claimed their first win of the competition when they beat, albeit rather unconvincingly, the Eastern Province Kings 30-25 at home in Pretoria.

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Jurgen Visser

Jurgen Visser

The Vodacom Blue Bulls have been dealt a massive blow with the news that fullback Jurgen Visser has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

According to reports, Visser injured his foot two weeks ago against Western Province and was allowed to take the weekend off against the Kings to recover.

While the medical assessment on Monday indicated he would be fit and ready to train on Tuesday and rejoin the team, more discomfort has seen the medical team review their diagnosis, and the fullback is set to undergo an operation that will see him out of action for at least the next four months.

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Brad Macleod-Henderson & Paul Anthony

Brad Macleod-Henderson & Paul Anthony

John Plumtree coached the Cell C Sharks in six Absa Currie Cup campaigns, and in four of those they topped the log.

They didn’t always convert that advantage. In 2009 they finished top but got bombed by the Cheetahs in a Kings Park semifinal on a day that, Plumtree will probably agree now, he made a mistake by absorbing too many Springboks back into the starting team. The Boks had won a series against the British and Irish Lions that year, as well as the Tri-Nations.

They weren’t in the mood and didn’t have the energy for the Currie Cup.

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Jacques Botes

Personal milestone: Jacques Botes – 150 Currie Cup Caps

Veteran Sharks flank Jacques Botes will break new ground in the Currie Cup on Friday as he extends his appearance record to 150 matches, which will make him the first player to reach this milestone.

Botes will mark this achievement against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday — the team he first represented in the competition.

He made his provincial debut for the Pumas in 2002 and remained at the union until 2004 before joining the Sharks in 2005. Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson has handed scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann his first start, while Springbok lock Stephan Lewies continues his return from injury off the bench.

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Mark Boucher

Mark Boucher received a signed jersey from the Vodacom Blue Bulls and will address the team later this week before they take on Western Province over the weekend to explain the synergies of working with the Team and SANParks to combat the rhino atrocities recently witnessed.

The Castle Lager Boucher Legacy NPC (non-profit company) “Our Rhino in safe hands” programme has joined forces with the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd in an effort to combat the scourge of rhino poaching.

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Josh Stander

Josh Stander

Flyhalf Joshua Stander could earn a first senior start for the Blue Bulls in the 2014 Currie Cup when the home team face Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The 20-year old former Queens College player has been bracketed with Jacques-Louis Potgieter at flyhalf and could make his debut for the team should the latter fail a fitness test.

Stander has played for the Blue Bulls Under-21 side in the Absa Provincial Championship this season and was an unused replacement in the victory against the EP Kings last weekend.

Should Stander or Potgieter play, they will be one of four changes to the side that won 30-25 against the Kings.

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DHL WPVodacom Blue BullsDHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls have decided to dedicate Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup fourth-round match to two rugby heroes who are involved in a battle of their own, Tinus Linee and Joost van der Westhuizen, both of whom are suffering from MND.

As the world continues to highlight the plight of those affected by Neuromuscular Disease via the social media phenomenon that is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Province and the Blue Bulls have decided to highlight the bravery of both Linee and Van der Westhuizen through Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld.

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man outfit to face the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Ackermann has made a few changes to the Lions backline, following last weekend’s 27-14 loss to Western Province at Newlands.

Ruan Combrinck will start at his preferred position of fullback, Lionel Mapoe will run out at right wing and Stokkies Hanekom reverts to the outside centre berth for this match.

Alwyn Hollenbach returns to action and will start at inside centre, while Andries Coetzee will fill the flyhalf slot.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks have stuck largely with the same side that defeated Free State last week for Friday night’s Absa Currie Cup clash with the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

Among the backs, there is just one change where scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann gets his first start after playing off the bench last week, with Cameron Wright coming off the bench later in the game, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

Among the forwards, JC Astle is back from injury and partners with Etienne Oosthuizen in the second row in the absence of Marco Wentzel, while the front row trio of Matt Stevens, Kyle Cooper and Dale Chadwick remains the same from last week as do the loosies, captain Tera Mtembu, Francois Kleinhans and Jacques Botes .

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Paul Anthony

Cell C Shark’s assistant coach, Paul Anthony.

Assistant coach Paul Anthony has defended the way the Sharks have continued to play the same kicking game they used during Super Rugby in the Currie Cup, insisting they are trying to change.

The defending champions are unbeaten so far and sit second on the log after three games, although have yet to show the attacking intent that had been promised by the Kings Park outfit in recent weeks.

“As we’ve discussed this week, we’ve got a different philosophy to the approach from Super Rugby, and hopefully that will not disappear, because there is place to kick, but there’s also a time to kick and a time to move it,” Anthony said on Tuesday.

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EP KingsThe Eastern Province Kings team that will take on the Xerox Golden Lions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this weekend has been announced.

Head Coach Carlos Spencer said they had not yet finalised who the captain would be, what with Luke Watson being out with a concussion, but said Aidon Davis would take up Watson’s spot at 8th man on Saturday.

Spencer said BG Uys came in for Lizo Gqoboka, who was being rested following a long three games.

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DHL WPWestern Province will never disrespect or underestimate any Blue Bulls team, no matter how much their rivals from the north are struggling.

The table-topping WP outfit travel to Pretoria on Saturday for the biggest domestic derby, when they face a Bulls team fresh off their first win of the season.

After having suffer heavy defeats in back-to-back outings in the opening rounds, the Bulls showed some improvement in their 30-25 win over the Eastern Province Kings last week.

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Sibusiso "S'Bura" Sithole

Sibusiso “S’Bura” Sithole

The Cell C Sharks look likely to be without outside centre S’bura Sithole when they play their return ABSA Currie Cup match against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night.

Sithole has been battling a rib injury and is in doubt for the match. Heimar Williams will replace him if he is not cleared to play. Otherwise the rest of the Sharks players are fit, with there being a possibility that key lineout forward Stephan Lewies will be added to the mix for a starting place this week.

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Luke Watson

Luke Watson

Eastern Province Kings captain Luke Watson has been ruled out of action for at least four weeks with concussion.

Watson, who has played little rugby in the last year due to injuries, suffered a head knock in the 25th minute of the Kings’ 30-25 loss to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria last Saturday.

Having recovered from a foot injury to lead the EP Kings in their opening Currie Cup match against WP, Watson also missed their second outing against the Golden Lions with flu.

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DHL WPCentre Michael van der Spuy is the only injury worry for Western Province coach Allister Coetzee, ahead of Saturday’s away meeting against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.

Van der Spuy has a tight hamstring, following the weekend’s 27-14 win over the Golden Lions, and did not train on Monday.

Should Van der Spuy be ruled out of action, Jaco Taute (on the bench last week) and Pat Howard (who came off the bench in Round One) would come into the selection equation an centre.

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Character Building

The perfect Christmas gift for the Bokke and Sharks

In a weekend of close calls for Springbok and Sharks fans, the demand for explanations has been met with the cliches of ‘character building’. Surely it is time for coaches to own up?

On Saturday the Sharks took on their bogey team, the Cheetahs – who are accustomed to struggling, but who have been exceeding in delivering poor performances this year.

The Sharks on the other hand are defending champions of the Currie Cup with some of the best structures and facilities money can buy – and they remain unbeaten through three rounds – just.

Three minutes from time the Sharks flyhalf, Fred Zeilinga, kicked a 45-metre penalty to deny the Cheetahs a deserved victory (this after the TMO also stepped in to snatch the win away from the Free Staters).

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Kobus van Wyk

WP flyer, Kobus van Wyk

Surprise, surprise… there are the Sharks and Western Province, back dominating Currie Cup rugby.

Many changes could still happen, of course, given that the 2014 competition is not quite a third of the way through the pre-knockout phase, but it is interesting nevertheless that the two coastal powers have already seized just a hint of a grip.

It will only increase speculation that the pair may be set for a third successive meeting in the final this year, something that has not happened since the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs met in each of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 showpieces.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann knows exactly where things went wrong for his team at the weekend.

And the wily mentor will not reach for the panic button, after his side dropped from first place to third on the Currie Cup standings in the wake of a 14-27 loss to Western Province at Newlands.

Even the return of stalwarts Alwyn Hollenbach and Deon van Rensburg will not result in panic selections this week.

Ackermann, addressing a media gathering after his team’s Round Three loss, said the big problem was that they “lost patience” in their game plan and also lacked in their execution.

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Brad Macleod-Henderson

Brad Macleod-Henderson

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson defended their snatch-and-run victory after they came from behind to oust the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.

Macleod-Henderson insisted the win in Durban highlighted the character of the defending champions.

A long-range Fred Zeilinga penalty four minutes from time enabled the coastal side to steal a 19-16 triumph at Kings Park.

“All victories come down to what the scoreboard says… We managed to win that battle,” Macleod-Henderson said.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

It was not performance that sounded a Currie Cup championship warning but the victorious Western Province showed their attacking prowess in their 27-14 victory over the Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday.

Speaking after the match, Province coach Allister Coetzee said the importance of starting well was once again underlined.

“Later in the match the Lions put us under tremendous pressure and there were not many opportunities again,” Coetzee said.

“It cost really hard work for us to survive in what was a tough game.”

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

It may have been a close shave but Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes their nervous 30-25 victory over the Eastern Province Kings in Pretoria on Saturday was the perfect remedy to their woes.

The Light Blues turned in an unconvincing performance as they came up against a tenacious Kings side that nearly tasted a rare victory at Loftus Versfeld.

Ludeke admitted that the result could easily have favoured the visitors but it was a victory they would take nevertheless.

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Cell C SharksA long-range penalty by Fred Zeilinga four minutes from time helped the Sharks snatch a last-ditch 19-16 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup clash at Kings Park on Saturday night.

The home flyhalf kicked 14 points in total, with the other five coming through a late try by Tonderai Chavhanga.

However, the visitors will rue what might have been after leading the game for most of the evening thanks to a brilliant Clayton Blommetjies’ try and the boot of Willie du Plessis.

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Steval PumasGWK GriquasPumas (11) 33 / 15 (12) Griquas (Final Score)

The Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division at

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

*******************

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has been forced to withdraw flyhalf Jaco van der Walt from his side to face DHL Western Province on Saturday, due to injury.

Van der Walt sustained a knee injury during last weekend’s clash with the EP Kings at Ellis Park. The 20-year-old has been unable to recover in time for Saturday’s match but it is hoped that he will return to action next week.

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