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Carlos Spencer

Carlos Spencer

EP Kings head coach, Carlos Spencer, has made five changes to the starting lineup that will take on Western Province at Newlands on Friday.

Spencer announced that Steven Sykes will once again captain the side as regular skipper, Luke Watson, was still recovering from a concussion.

Changes to the forward pack include Lizo Gqoboka, who will return to the side at loosehead prop in place of BG Uys, with Shaun McDonald coming off the bench on at Flank, rotating with Thembelani Boli who moves to the bench.

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Springboks flyer Bryan Habana

Springboks flyer Bryan Habana

The Wallabies have been the source of great pain and great satisfaction in Bryan Habana’s glittering Test career.

After the anguish of the 2011 World Cup quarter-final – a game still capable of sending a collective shudder through a Springboks team room – and the elation of last year’s watershed Test victory at Suncorp Stadium, it is fitting that the South African winger will play his 100th Test against the Wallabies in Perth.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

He has been one of the stellar performers nationwide as the Currie Cup approaches its halfway stage in pre-knockout play this weekend.

But will Nizaam Carr, the tearaway No 8 for log-leaders Western Province, fall prey soon to that all too common shortcoming by South African coaches at either Super Rugby or provincial level: flogging players to the point of exhaustion or often not unrelated injury?

A week and a half ago, WP coach Allister Coetzee admitted to some journalists that Carr, whose game-to-game work-rate has often been little short of extraordinary, was in need of some “off” time – remember that the domestic competition has no bye-weekend luxuries.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has laid it on the line. Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup showdown with neighbours the Xerox Golden Lions is almost a season-decider for his team.

Having won just one out of four games thus far, the Blue Bulls desperately need to reverse their fortunes and while their performance against Western Province was a lot better than their opening three games, they still couldn’t get a win in the game, despite dominating possession.

Ludeke has made it clear that the Bulls need to up their finishing, something that has been a difficult thing for them this season, and they need to take the points on offer when they are in control.

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AustraliaThe Kurtley Beale No 10 experiment has been aborted, with Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie naming Super Rugby title-winning halves Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps to take on South Africa in Perth this Saturday.

Beale and Brumbies halfback Nic White have both been benched following the Wallabies’ 51-20 flogging from the All Blacks, but centre Matt Toomua, winger Rob Horne and star fullback Israel Folau have all held their spots in the backline.

Adam Ashley Cooper has shifted to the wing to cover for the retired Pat McCabe (neck), with Tevita Kuridrani getting the call-up at outside centre for the Patersons Stadium clash.

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Bernard Foley

Ewen McKenzie is set to give Bernard Foley a shot in the Wallabies No 10 jumper.

Australian vice captain James Slipper says the Wallabies’ pack must shoulder some of the responsibility for Kurtley Beale’s underwhelming performance at five-eighth in Auckland 10 days ago.

After a two-Test experiment with Beale and Brumbies halfback Nic White at the helm of the Wallabies’ back line, Ewen McKenzie is set to debut the Super Rugby title-winning combination of Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps on Tuesday when he names the side to take on South Africa at Paterson’s Stadium.

But in a week in which the entire Australian line-up will be out to repair the Wallabies’ badly bruised reputation, Slipper leapt to Beale’s defence and said the pack had to give their back line generals something to work with.

“He’s a class player. We all know what he can do,” the Wallabies prop and Stan Pilecki medallist said.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

The rugby spectator who was stabbed at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday evening, shortly before the end of the Currie Cup match between the EP Kings and the Golden Lions, is recovering well, according to Stadium management.

Stadium management’s chief executive Chantal du Pisani and Charl Crous, EP Rugby chief executive along with representatives from the Mount Road SAPS visited the victim on Monday.

“He is recovering well and is in relatively good spirits,” said Du Pisani.

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Thomas du Toit

Thomas du Toit

The Cell C Sharks limped back into Durban after their defeat to the Steval Pumas wounded not only psychologically by their Nelspruit ordeal, but also physically.

Star young flank Francois Kleinhans went off early at Mbombela Stadium with a broken wrist, and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

That is a big blow for the Sharks as they have lost Jean Deysel and Keegan Daniel to Japanese clubs, while Ryan Kankowski is of course also back in Japan.

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Jesse Kriel

Jesse Kriel

The Vodacom Blue Bulls were given another mixed dose of news when the injury report arrived following their 23-18 loss to DHL Western Province in their Absa Currie Cup clash on Saturday.

While there was good news that both injured flyhalves – Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Tony Jantjies – had recovered from their ailments that forced them to miss the Western Province game, the Bulls were given the news that they will need a new fullback this weekend when they prepare to take on the Xerox Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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Jacques Botes

Jacques Botes

Fortunately for the Cell C Sharks they have a good chance of redeeming themselves when they host struggling GWK Griquas in Durban this coming weekend, but the warning lights are flickering for the Absa Currie Cup champions.

There were excuses aplenty for the Sharks coaches after their 32-22 defeat to the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit in round four, and some of them were legitimate. Injuries did during the course of the game decimate their pack.

And let’s also not take anything away from the Pumas, who have been strong at home this season and also pushed the Sharks in the first round game much more than the final scoreline would suggest.

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Jannie du Plessis & Morné Steyn

Jannie du Plessis & Morné Steyn

There was nothing surprising about Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn focusing on the scrum as he prepared to depart with the squad at the weekend for what will be a testing Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The scrumming was not the only area of concern for the Boks during the June internationals and in the two Championship matches against Argentina.

But it was an aspect that fell short both against Wales and the Pumas, and those who know the South African rugby psyche, will understand the ripple effect that the scrumming humiliation at the hands of Argentina in Salta would have sent through the team.

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JD Schickerling

JD Schickerling

Western Province Under 21 lock JD Schickerling narrowly escaped paralysis after breaking his neck against the Blue Bulls Under 21′s.

The 19-year-old Junior Springbok broke his neck in the 4th minute of the Absa Under 21 clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

Schickerling was injured just after catching a ball from a kick-off when Bulls lock Irne Herbst’s shoulder collided with Schickerling’s head. Afterwards, the other Bulls lock, Marvin Orie, grabbed the WP player in a headclamp before hurling him to the ground.

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Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Speedster Seabelo Senatla will almost certainly miss Friday night’s home Absa Currie Cup clash with the EP Kings at Newlands, but the DHL Western Province brains-trust will be holding thumbs that his absence from the game won’t be for long.

The Springbok Sevens star will have the ankle that he twisted during his match winning performance for WP against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus this past weekend assessed on Monday.

He said after the match that the ankle didn’t feel bad, and he was apparently walking comfortably on Sunday, but WP coach Allister Coetzee has listed him as a doubtful starter for Friday night’s game.

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DHL WPFew would deny that up-tempo Western Province, last year’s runners-up, look favourites for the 2014 Currie Cup title at this point.

There is every chance that at the midway turn in ordinary-season play next weekend, they will only have consolidated their position at the top of the table and remain the only side with a 100 percent win record from five matches.

That is because Friday night at Newlands sees a clash between the leaders and the EP Kings, currently the wooden-spoon outfit with a mere one point – it would be a real turn-up for the books if the visitors come away victorious.

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Will Skelton

Will Skelton on the charge for the Sydney Stars against Melbourne Rising at Leichhardt Oval.

Will Skelton is eager to do battle with the “big boppers” of South Africa after turning in 80-minute audition for the Sydney Stars in their loss to Melbourne Rising at Leichhardt Oval.

Whether the rugby equivalent of a fight scene from Jurassic Park — 140kg Skelton duelling with South Africa’s lumbering monsters — occurs at the start or the end of the Test in Perth remains to be seen, but the big lock did what was asked of him by seeing out the entire match.

It wasn’t a pleasant Sunday for the Stars — pumped 45-13 by Melbourne — but Ewen McKenzie said if Skelton was to be considered to start against South Africa, the impact player needed to display a capacity to play 80 minutes.

The Waratahs’ super-sub hadn’t done that in more than three months but came through comfortably.

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South AfricaSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer expects higher standards in Australia than his side achieved against Argentina.

Although they beat the Pumas at home and away, neither of the wins were convincing with torrential rain slowing them down in Pretoria before they got out of jail in Salta.

Meyer admitted that he was not satisfied with their two performances thus far, and added that they will have to lift their standards if they are to get the better of a competitive Wallabies outfit.

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Schalk van der Merwe

Schalk van der Merwe

Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer was a frustrated man after his team suffered their fourth straight loss in the Currie Cup, going down 41-22 to the Lions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday night.

Despite the losing streak, the Kings showed a massive improvement after they had been thumped by the same opponents 60-19 in their clash in Johannesburg earlier this month.

The Kings showed great fighting spirit and enjoyed a narrow 22-21 lead with 20 minutes remaining, before the Lions’ experience and aggressive driving play earned them two final tries to seal the victory.

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Taine Randell

Taine Randell

On merit, history suggests Sonny Bill Williams will play second fiddle to Ma’a Nonu again.

The only time Williams genuinely cracked the All Blacks was when Nonu had a wretched run with injury. He was No 1 by default. At the last World Cup he was a bit-part player at best.

In terms of the exemption he was granted to be picked for the end of year tour without having to play in the NPC for Counties Manukau, I’m not in favour of it.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says his side showed encouraging signs in their defeat to Western Province that they are on the right track.

It has been a tough start to the season for the Pretoria side, with just one win from their four games so far, and they were left disappointed again at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as the unbeaten Cape side beat them for the second time in a few weeks.

However, despite the frustration of coming up short again, Ludeke was upbeat and took some positives from his side’s performance.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

Opening a three-point gap atop the Currie Cup log, after a tightly contested 23-18 victory over a much-improved Blue Bulls side at Loftus Versfeld gave Western Province coach Allister Coetzee a lot to smile about.

“We are very happy with the win, we were up against a desperate Bulls side and they showed the way they came out tonight and they really came at us,” Coetzee said.

“It is a massive win for us, to come out here at altitude to beat the Bulls with a relatively young side and it is the first time that they’ve lost at Loftus this year.”

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Jimmy Stonehouse

With the Pumas having kept their home record in tact in the Currie Cup, coach Jimmy Stonehouse will be targeting away victories following their 32-22 victory over defending champions the Sharks in Mbombela on Friday evening.

“The sign of a good team is whether they can win away from home and although it was easier in the First Division we won all our away matches which is difficult in the Currie Cup Premier Division,” Stonehouse said.

“Our first aim is to get the bonus point when we are playing away. Obviously you go for the victory – but you hope things stick and come away with a win.”

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ABSA Currie CupXerox Golden Lions keep EP Kings at bay

The Golden Lions got their Currie Cup rugby title bid back on track when they scored a bonus-point win in overcoming a courageous Eastern Province Kings outfit 41-22 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday night.

With Ruan Combrinck in outstanding form with the boot, slotting all seven of his kicks at goal with five conversions and two penalties, the Lions will be satisfied to come away from Port Elizabeth with five points.

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EP KingsXerox Golden LionsEP Kings (19) 22 / 41 (21) Golden Lions (Final Score)

The Eastern Province Kings and Xerox Golden Lions did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division at

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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

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Renaldo Bothma

Renaldo Bothma

The Pumas defeated defending Currie Cup champions, the Sharks, 32-22 (half-time 18-9) at Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.

The hosts used their majority possession to score a four-try bonus point victory to move to the second place on the Currie Cup log.

Playing an exciting brand of rugby, the Lowveld-based side demonstrated how to win with an expansive mindset.

The Sharks initially did well to soak up the pressure from a probing Pumas attack by exiting well from their own half using flyhalf Fred Zeilinga’s clearance kicking to great effect.

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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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