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Currie Cup

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SuperBruOnly 4 points separated the All Blacks from the Bokke in Wellington, but, as expected, New Zealand were the victors.

Australia managed a 7 point win against the Pumas so there were no surprises for Round 4 of the Rugby Championship.

There we many positives to be taken out of the game from a South African perspective, the biggest being the form of Handré Pollard playing in his first real big Test.

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Jono Ross

Jono Ross: Replaces the suspended Deon Stegmann

Jono Ross will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the absence of suspended skipper Deon Stegmann when they play the Cell C Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday. Ross was the regular skipper in 2013 and will lead a team that include four new faces in Wiaan Liebenberg, Callie Visagie, Sampie Mastriet and Rudy Paige from the starting line-up that beat EP Kings last weekend.

Liebenberg comes in for Stegmann, a fit-again Visagie replaces Bongi Mbonambi and Mastriet comes in for Akona Ndungane on the wing. Paige moves up from the bench swopping places with Piet van Zyl.

Mbonambi edges out Bandise Maku.

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DHL WPLoose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe and utility back Justin Geduld will make their first Absa Currie Cup starts for DHL Western Province in Saturday’s home fixture against Griquas (kick-off 15h00).

Notshe will wear the No.6 jersey at DHL Newlands in the absence of injured loose forward colleague Siya Kolisi, whilst SA Sevens star Geduld will start on the left-wing as part of the five changes to the DHL WP team this week.

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Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

The loss of Odwa Ndungane last week is off-set by returning Springbok Lwazi Mvovo who has been released from the Springbok squad for the Cell C Sharks’ Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday (17:05 kick-off).

According to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick, he is one of a handful of changes in the backline, where a re-jigged back three and midfield change see plenty of pace introduced.

Paul Jordaan returns after a week’s rest and will partner last week’s debutant Andre Esterhuizen (and a try-scorer on debut) in a potentially very dangerous centre partnership that marries brute strength with pace and acceleration to burn.

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Sarel Pretorius

Sarel Pretorius

Free State Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius is set to play his 100th Currie Cup match when his side tackle the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

According to Volksblad, the 30-year-old played 18 Currie Cup games for the Falcons between 2006 and 2007. He then represented Griquas in 53 Cup games until 2011 before joining Free State, for who he has played 28 games.

The attacking minded scrumhalf also boasts 37 tries in his 99 career Currie Cup games.

The only other scrumhalf in South Africa to play more than 100 Currie Cup games is Tewis de Bruyn, who played 118 Cup games, representing the Leopards, SWD, Boland, Free State and Griffons.

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Cell C SharksWhile the result wasn’t exactly what the Cell C Sharks would have liked, or what they worked so hard to achieve, the Currie Cup draw with Free State was certainly an improved performance, according to Sharks’ website editor Michael Marnewick.

“Our play improved quite a lot from the previous week, we certainly created more opportunities to score which means we are playing better rugby,” explains assistant coach Sean Everitt.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann has received a 1 week ban for foul play.

Blue Bulls captain and flank Deon Stegmann was suspended for 1 week on Wednesday for striking a player with his elbow in their Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings last Friday.

His Blue Bulls team mate, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, meanwhile, was cleared of further sanction after receiving a Yellow Card in the match for charging into a ruck without using his arms.

Stegmann and Mbonambi both appeared before a SARU judicial committee in Pretoria on Tuesday after being sent to the sin-bin in their clash in Port Elizabeth.

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Carlos Spencer & Jared McCracken - 2012

IN THE RING: Carlos Spencer swings at rugby league star Jared McCracken at Fight for Life 2012.

Former All Blacks star Carlos Spencer says time is against him pursuing a long professional boxing career, but admits he couldn’t resist the challenge of taking on Monty Betham in the money ranks.

After a handful of corporate fights, the 38-year-old Spencer will make his pro debut as the main undercard bout on December’s Fight For Life card in Hamilton.

Gone were the days of three two-minute rounds where Spencer’s victories included beating rugby league stars Awen Guttenbeil and Jarrod McCracken.

It was four three-minute rounds against Betham, the former Warriors hard man who came from a boxing family and had six pro fights to his name for five wins (three by knockout) with his only loss being a points decision to Shane Cameron in his last fight, three years ago.

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Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

Following an agreement between the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the provincial unions, wing Lwazi Mvovo has been released to play in the Currie Cup for the Cell C Sharks this weekend.

Mvovo will train with the Sharks this week and join the Springbok squad in Cape Town on Sunday evening.

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Tera Mtembu

Tera Mtembu: Wants better finishing

Sharks’ captain Tera Mtembu admits that the defending Currie Cup champions have slumped into a “desperate” position in their bid to defend the title.

The Durban-based side drew 30-30 with the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Saturday and must now win all of their four remaining games if they want to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals.

“I think the word we can use is desperate,” said Mtembu said on Tuesday.

“We’ve slipped into a position now that we have to win every game.

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Jono Ross

Jono Ross

Blue Bulls loose forward Jono Ross is embracing life on and off the field.

While the Blue Bulls have struggled for consistency in the Currie Cup in recent seasons, they have developed some impressive talent during this time. One notable player is Jono Ross, who has made major strides through the ranks at the union.

Originally from Johannesburg, where he attended St Stithians and played age-group rugby for the Golden Lions, Ross made the switch to the Bulls in 2010. He’s played senior rugby in the Vodacom Cup since 2011, before making his Super Rugby and Currie Cup debuts in 2013.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to front the Steval Pumas at Ellis Park on Friday.

Ackermann has opted for consistency, making just one change to his starting side. In the forwards, Martin Muller will start at lock in place of the injured MB Lusaseni.

On the bench, Derick Minnie will return from injury to provide cover. Malcolm Marx will need to pass a fitness test later in the week in order to be included on the wood.

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DHL WPWestern Province will need to ‘change their attitude’ or face more Currie Cup heartache in the coming weeks.

This is the view of WP coach Allister Coetzee, following his team’s first defeat of the season – when they went down 33-35 to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg last Saturday.

Province, who conceded just eight tries in the first five weeks of the revamped Currie Cup competition, leaked five five-pointers against the Lions at Ellis Park.

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Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi

Springbok flank Siya Kolisi will be out for at least four weeks after hurting both of his knees in Western Province’s 35-33 Currie Cup loss to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend.

The defeat, which included a losing bonus point, was WP’s first loss of the 2014 Currie Cup season, but it has come at a cost for the 2012 champions.

According to WP’s official website, Kolisi suffered a torn Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) in both of his knees and is now in a race against the clock to be back for the Currie Cup playoffs.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

What a difference a week makes…

 

The Rugby Championship:

We saw 2 very good test matches, particularly the All Blacks vs Springboks game, played in the Cake Tin.

It was played at tempo for the duration of the match and was superbly refereed by Jerome Garces. Chalk and cheese between what we saw last week.

He seemed to be able to make his decisions with ease, without pressure, and for the most part they were well timed, and accurate. He added huge value to a compelling test match which was deservedly won by the All Blacks.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann is to appear in front of a judiciary.

Vodacom Blue Bulls captain and flank, Deon Stegmann, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi will face SARU disciplinary hearings on Tuesday after being cited following the team’s Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Stegmann, received a Red Card for striking a player with his elbow at a ruck in the 69th minute, which was in breach of Law 10.4 (a), while Mbonambi received a Yellow Card in the 12th minute for charging into a ruck dangerously, which contravened Law 10.4 (h).

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Unhappy camper: Jimmy Stonehouse

Steval Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has blasted his team after their 31-27 loss to GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.

The supersport.com website reports, Stonehouse didn’t hold back as he said his team’s performance was nowhere near their normal standards and that he expected an improvement this weekend as they head to Ellis Park to face the Xerox Golden Lions in their next Absa Currie Cup match.

“I think it was the worst performance we have given in the history of Puma rugby,” Stonehouse said.

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Cell C SharksA top Cell C Sharks executive has been suspended amid reports of maladministration at the union after a forensic investigation of its financial affairs.

According to The Mercury, internal procedures are under way between the Sharks and the official, who has been with the franchise for more than 21 years.

News of maladministration at the Sharks surfaced earlier this year when auditing company KPMG was called upon to investigate matters.

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Free State CheetahsCell C SharksFS Cheetahs (17) 30 / 30 (13) Sharks (Final Score)

TheToyota Free State Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division at

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein at 15:00 SA Time (13:00 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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EP KingsEP Kings (6) 13 / 28 (11) Blue Vodacom Blue BullsBulls (Final Score)

The Eastern Province Kings and Vodacopm Blue Bulls 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 & CSN on TV in SA.

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SuperBruRound 3 of the Rugby Championship ended in heartbreak for the Springboks when they went down to Australia by 1 point in the final few minutes of what was not an entertaining match at all.

The referee, the yellow card to Bryan Habana, the failed touchfinder by Morné Steyn and various other reasons have already been dissected and discussed, so we won’t dwell on those.

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Louis Schreuder

50 Up! Louis Schreuder

Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder will play his 50th provincial match on Saturday and he will have a new halfback partner for the occasion, when DHL Western Province go up against the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg (kick-off 17:05 SA Time).

The DHL WP starting XV shows just two changes from last week’s 49-14 demolition of the EP Kings, with Kurt Coleman partnering half-centurion Schreuder in what will be his first start of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup and vice-captain Pat Cilliers returning at tighthead prop.

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Lionel Mapoe

Lionel Mapoe

Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to front Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.

In the backline, Lionel Mapoe shifts to outside centre with Stokkies Hanekom moving into the inside centre berth, while Courtnall Skosan has been recalled to the starting side at left wing.

Ricky Schroeder will start at scrumhalf in the place of Ross Cronje, who is ruled out for up to three weeks with a knee injury.

Up front, Willie Britz will start at No 8 in place of Derick Minnie.

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Cell C SharksThe Sharks have made five changes to their starting backline for the clash with the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The defending Currie Cup champions went down to Griquas in Durban last week and coach Brad Macleod-Henderson has responded by making some drastic changes.

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Free State CheetahsThe Cheetahs have rung the changes for their crucial Currie Cup clash with the Sharks in Bloemfontein.

The Free State side lost for the third time in their last game against the Pumas, and now find themselves fifth in the table, with only the top four making the play-offs.

As a result coach Rory Duncan has made drastic changes, with Sarel Pretorius the only player to keep his shirt in the backline from last week.

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Akona Ndungane

Akona Ndungane

Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke recalled Springbok wings Akona Ndungane and Bjorn Basson to his team to face the EP Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday (19:10 kick-off).

They replace Sampie Mastriet and Jamba Ulengo, who started against the Golden Lions last week. They are two of three changes to the backline for the clash in Port Elizabeth.

In another rotational move, Piet van Zyl will start at scrumhalf, with Rudy Paige moving to the bench.

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De Kock Steenkamp

De Kock Steenkamp

Welsh club Ospreys have confirmed that they have signed Stormers lock De Kock Steenkamp on a three-year contract, despite the player having one more year on his contract in the Cape.

Steenkamp, 27, secured an early release from his Stormers contract and will join the PRO12 club after representing the Stormers on 49 occasions in Super Rugby and playing 59 games for the Western Province in the Currie Cup.

“Joining the Ospreys is a great opportunity for me and a challenge that I can’t wait to get stuck into,” said Steenkamp in a statement on Ospreys’ official website.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Do I really need to confirm what everyone else already knows… This was not a good weekend for referees!

We are operating in a system where I have said that these type of weekends are not avoidable and until key elements of the system are exposed, and then adequately addressed, this will continue into the future.

The referees are not getting it right, and it is pointless saying after the fact, that things need to be looked at, when the writing was on the wall from the get go.

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Johan Ackermann

Not a happy camper: Lion’s coach Johan Ackermann

Xerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann was close to tearing his hair out in frustration, not so much by the way his team stumbled to a 36-26 loss at the hands of the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their Absa Currie Cup encounter, but more by the refereeing decisions that negated his side’s normally strong scrum platform.

Ackermann called the contest “the most boring game” and admitted to being frustrated by referee Marius van der Westhuizen’s high penalty count – against both sides – at the set piece, that robbed the game of much momentum and made it a stop-start affair.

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GWK Griquas

Griqua players celebrate their first win of the Currie Cup.

The mini-slump being experienced by the defending champions, the Sharks, is a key feature of the Currie Cup at its midway point in league play.

Two losses on the trot – after a three-match winning start that hadn’t produced much champagne rugby and was already delivering certain warning signs – have left the Durban-based side with an increasingly precarious hold on a “semi-final” slot.

They lie fourth on the overall table and with an awful lot of work to do in the second half of their ordinary-season roster if they are to recover enough ground to challenge for rights to a possible home final – perhaps simply making sure they actually get into the last four must be a shorter-term, lesser objective now.

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