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Free State Cheetahs

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Xerox Golden LionsFree State CheetahsGolden Lions (13) 43 / 33 (16) FS Cheetahs (Final Score)

The Xerox Golden Lions and Toyota Free State Cheetahs did battle in a semifinal of the ABSA Currie Cup at

Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg at 13:45 SA Time (11:45 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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ABSA Currie CupWith just 2 knockout Rounds left until the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup champions are crowned this year, the 4 remaining teams in the country’s oldest and most prestigious domestic rugby competition have it all to play for in the 2 Semifinals this weekend.

DHL Western Province, the 2014 champions, travel to Pretoria for their clash on Friday evening against the Vodacom Blue Bulls. The Blue Bulls, who finished 2nd on the Log, will host their 1st ABSA Currie Cup Semifinal since 2008, with the match starting at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).

The in-form Xerox Golden Lions, meanwhile, have so far swept aside every challenge before them this season and they are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run in the competition. They are playing in the 2nd Semifinal at home in Johannesburg at Emirates Airline Park against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. This Saturday fixture kick-off is at 13:45 SA Time (11:45 GMT).

The clash in Pretoria will mark the 3rd time that the 2 great North vs South rivals meet this season, and they currently share the spoils between them with a home victory each. Last year, the Cape side defeated their rivals 31 / 23 in the Semifinal at Newlands.

Western Province eventually went on to lift the coveted ABSA Currie Cup trophy in front of their home crowd, after former coach Allister Coetzee’s charges edged the Golden Lions 19 / 16 in the 2014 final.

The Xerox Golden Lions scored a runaway 73 / 31 victory over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their round-robin meeting last month in Bloemfontein and they should be fresh and rejuvenated after fielding a new-look side for last weekend’s last league fixture against the ORC Griquas.

However, the Free State Cheetahs will approach the meeting with the Golden Lions knowing that previous form will count for nothing in the knockout phase. They managed to escape defeat against the Cell C Sharks last Saturday thanks to a gritty fightback in Bloemfontein and this week they will have to show that fighting spirit from the start against the team that have so far have thrived on their high-tempo, fast attacking style of play.

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Niel Marais

Niel Marais

Niel Marais will start at flyhalf for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their semifinal clash against the unbeaten Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The 23-year-old replaces Sias Ebersohn, who drops down to the bench. The swop at flyhalf is the only change to the starting 15 that drew 34 / 34 with the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein last week.

Hoooker Torsten van Jaarsveld is back after doing duty for Namibia in the Rugby World Cup and will be replacing Neil Rautenbach on the bench. Prop Maks van Dyk was declared fit and will be replacing Teunis Nieuwoudt on the bench.

In the other change to the bench, forward Freddy Ngoza will be making space for back Adriaan Coertzen.

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ABSA Currie CupThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed the kick-off times and match officials for the semi-finals of the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division and the various junior competition playoff fixtures.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls host the DHL Western Province this coming Friday at Loftus Versfeld and the starting time for the 1st Premier Division Semi-final in Pretoria is 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).

On Saturday, the Xerox Golden Lions host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in the 2nd playoff match at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. Kick-off time is 13:45 SA Time (11:45 GMT).

Referee Marius van der Westhuizen will take charge of the Pretoria encounter while Jaco van Heerden will referee the Johannesburg match.

Both ABSA Currie Cup Semi-finals clashes will be televised live on SuperSport 1.

The 2 ABSA Under 19 A-Division playoff matches are scheduled for this coming Friday, while the 2 playoff matches in the ABSA Under 21 A-Division are scheduled for Saturday.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Toyota Free State Cheetahs clinched a dramatic 34 / 34 draw on Saturday against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein to finish 4th on the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division Log, and in doing so, they booked themselves a Semifinal clash against the Xerox Golden Lions next weekend in Johannesburg.

The Free State Cheetahs scored 2 converted tries in the in last 5 minutes at the Free State Stadium, while replacement fullback Neil Marais slotted the vital conversion after the final hooter to draw the 2 teams level in Bloemfontein and at the same time shatter the Cell C Sharks’ playoff hopes. The Free State Cheetahs finished 2 points above the Cel C Sharks on the final Log with 24 points.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls finished 2nd on the Log after they edged the Steval Pumas 25 / 24 in Nelspruit on Friday and they now meet 3rd-placed DHL Western Province in Pretoria in the playoffs. The Blue Bulls versus WP clash is set for this coming Friday evening at Loftus Versfeld.

In Cape Town, DHL Western Province finished their league commitments with a bonus-point 45 / 14 win over the Eastern Province Kings. Runaway Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, completed the round-robin phase unbeaten with 10 wins after their much changed side defeated the ORC Griquas 29 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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ABSA Currie CupThe final Round, Round 10, of league fixtures in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division takes place this weekend and all eyes will be on the Free State Rugby Stadium in Bloemfontein, where the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the Cell C Sharks will battle it out for the remaining Semifinal spot.

Unbeaten Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, are already assured of a home Semifinal, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province are also through to the Semifinals.

However, with only 2 points separating the Free State Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks on the Log standings, the 2 teams have everything to play for in what is effectively a Quarterfinal in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

The Free State Cheetahs currently have 21 points and the Cell C Sharks 19, and both teams know that a victory will book a meeting with the competition’s in-form and most prolific team this season, the Golden Lions, in Johannesburg. The losing team, meanwhile, will crash out of the competition.

DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls also have a lot to play for. Both teams are in action on Friday and their respective matches in Cape Town and Nelspruit kick off at the same time at 18:00 SA Time.

The Blue Bulls, 2nd on the Log with 34 points, face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium and the Pretoria side knows that a win, even without a bonus point, will be enough to guarantee them a home Semifinal in the capital. Steval Pumas stalwart Marius Coetzer will deservedly earn his 100th cap when he takes to the field from the bench, while skipper Stefan Watermeyer will earn his 50th cap.

Western Province, in turn, face an injury-hit EP Kings side at DHL Newlands and the Capetonians will run out knowing that a bonus-point win is a must if they want to keep alive their slim hope of hosting a playoff match. However, for that to happen they must hope for a Blue Bulls defeat in Nelspruit.

Meanwhile, the free-scoring Golden Lions will round off their league commitments with a home clash against the bottom-of-the-log ORC Griquas in a 16:00 SA Time kick-off at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Interestingly, the Nel-brothers, Ruhan of ORC Griquas and Jacques of the Golden Lions, will line up opposite each other, with both playing in the No 13 jersey for their respective teams. Ruhan, a Springbok Sevens international, plays outside centre for Griquas after playing on the wing against the Cell C Sharks last weekend. The brothers played together for the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup, but this will be the 1st time they will play against each other.

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Franco Smith

Franco Smith

Toyota Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his team for their crucial Currie Cup clash against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Smith made changes to his pack from the team that drew 37 / 37 with the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit last weekend.

Loose forward Boom Prinsloo is fit again and replaces Gerhard Olivier in the No 6 jersey, with Olivier moving down to the bench in place of Ruan van Rensburg.

Neill Jordaan also replaces De Wet Kruger at No 8, while Armandt Koster replaces Reniel Hugo at lock, with the latter moving to the bench in the place of Willem Serfontein.

Jacques du Toit is also back at hooker, with Neil Rautenbach on the bench in place of Chase Morison.

BG Uys and Teunis Nieuwoudt also switch places at loosehead prop, with Uys in the starting line-up.

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Rayno Benjamin

Rayno Benjamin

Toyota Free State Cheetahs utility back Rayno Benjamin has escaped all sanction after he appeared before a SARU Judicial Hearing late on Monday afternoon.

According to the SARU Regulations, a player must appear before a judicial hearing after receiving 2 Yellow Cards in 1 match or 3 overall in a competition.

Benjamin was shown 2 Yellow Cards in their match against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit in Round 9 of the Currie Cup – 1 for a dangerous tackle and another for a team offence, resulting in a Red Card.

He also received a Yellow Card against DHL Western Province earlier in the competition, to take his total tally to 3 in the competition.

His hearing was held late via teleconference before Duty Judicial Officer advocate Rob Stelzner, who decided not to impose any further sanction on the player.

Benjamin was therefore deemed available for selection for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs’ home fixture against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.



ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions produced their most impressive display of the season when they demolished DHL Western Province 62 / 32 in their ABSA Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park on Friday evening in Johannesburg.

The Golden Lions stretched their unbeaten run to 9 games and their prolific form saw them stack up 135 points in their last 2 games. They are 9 Log Points clear of 2nd-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls, who outplayed the Eastern Province Kings by 48 / 27 also on Friday evening in Pretoria.

Although WP suffered their 3rd loss of their campaign against a rampant Golden Lions team, their 30 Log points means they are assured of 3rd place on the standings, irrespective of the outcome of their last Round clash this coming Friday against the EP Kings in Cape Town.

ORC Griquas were no match for the Cell C Sharks in Kimberley on Saturday as the Durban-based side ran in 6 tries for a 45 / 20 victory to move within 2 points of the 4th-placed Toyota Free State Cheetahs on the Log.

The Steval Pumas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs played to a thrilling 37 / 37 draw in their encounter at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday after the visitors led 24 / 16 at halftime.

Currently, the Xerox Golden Lions lead the way on 43 Log points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls on 34, DHL Western Province are 3rd on 30, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 4th on 21, followed by the Cell C Sharks on 19, Steval Pumas on 16, EP Kings on 12 and ORC Griquas are stone last on 8.

This coming weekend sees the Toyota Free State Cheetahs host the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein and the winner of this encounter will play the Xerox Golden Lions in 1 of the Semi-finals in Johannesburg. The Vodacom Blue Bulls just need a win in Nelspruit to set up a home meeting in the semi-finals against DHL Western Province.

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Francois Uys

Francois Uys

Lock Francois Uys will lead the Toyota Free State Cheetahs against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit on Saturday.

The former Xerox Golden Lions player will take over the captaincy from centre Francois Venter – he led the team in their defeat against the Xerox Golden Lions last week.

Uys’s return means that Reniel Hugo will move to No 4 and Freddy Ngoza moves on to the bench.

The Free Sate Cheetahs are placed 4th on the Currie Cup log and will be looking to end the Pumas challenge for a semifinal spot.

Ryno Benjamin will replace Tertius Kruger at centre, while Ruan van Rensburg drops down to the bench.

Raymond Rhule will replace last weeks late replacement, Maphutha Dolo, at left wing.

Zee Mkabela drops out of the squad and Shaun Venter will replace him at scrumhalf, with Neil Marais taking his place on the bench.

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Free State CheetahsSias Ebersohn will make his 1st start for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at the pivotal role of flyhalf since his return home from down-under.

Ebersohn, who played at the Western Force in Perth from 2013 to 2015, takes over the reins from in-form flyhalf Fred Zeilinga among many other changes coach Franco Smith has made for the Currie Cup clash with the Xerox Golden Lions in Bloemfontein.

In the backline Tertius Kruger replaces Rayno Benjamin at inside centre while Zee Mkhabela starts at scrumhalf and Shaun Venter drops to the bench.

In the forwards Gerhard Olivier moves to No 8 and Niell Jordaan switches to the side of the scrum. Vincent Jobo completes the looseforward trio at openside flank.

In the engine room Freddy Ngoza replaces Armandt Koster who is sidelined due to a knee injury while Willem Serfontein and De Wet Kruger are new on the bench.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions scored 2 tries in the 2nd half to secure a 26 / 18 win against the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday afternoon. The win kept the Lions’ unbeaten status intact and they now have an 8-point lead over the Vodacom Blue Bulls on the Log.

Also on Saturday, former Junior Springbok wing Sergeal Petersen ran in a brace of tries as the Toyota Free State Cheetahs completed a 44 / 24 bonus-point home win over the ORC Griquas.

The win saw the Free State Cheetahs leapfrog the Cell C Sharks and the Steval Pumas to move into 4th place on the Log and keep their semifinal chances alive while the Griquas remain rooted to the bottom of the table after just 1 win from their 7 matches.

DHL Western Province gained sweet revenge against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands with a 29 / 14 victory in Cape Town on Friday evening. The Pretoria side will rue a string of missed opportunities that cost them the chance of closing the gap on the log leaders as handling errors and strong defence from WP meant they suffered their 2nd loss of the campaign.

The Steval Pumas kept their slim semifinal hopes alive with a gritty 20 / 9 win over the Eastern Province Kings in their fixture at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.

The Pumas had come into the game off the back of 2 consecutive losses and were desperate to get back to winning ways. The victory has kept them in distant touch with the front-runners and was just enough to make them outside contenders for the playoffs. They did not collect a bonus point but the win could prove crucial at the end of the round-robin stage.

After 7 Rounds, the Xerox Golden Lions are out in front on 33 points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls on 25 points. Last year’s winners, DHL Western Province, are currently 3rd on 24 points, followed by the Toyota Free State Cheetahs on 17 points. The Cell C Sharks (13) and Pumas (also 13) follow next, then the Kings in 7th place (7) and Griquas (6).

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ABSA Currie CupThe Trans-Jukskei derby is the highlight of Round 6 and a sneak preview of a possible Currie Cup Final.

The undefeated neighbours, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions, have been the standout teams and also the 2 most entertaining sides.

Johan Ackermann’s Golden Lions are leading the standings on 25 Log points – having collected a full-house 5 points in all 5 their outings this season.

The Blue Bulls are a solitary point behind, also winning 5 from 5 but won the last Round’s game without a bonus point.

The weekend’s action starts in Port Elizabeth on Friday where the winless Eastern Province Kings host a vastly-improved Toyota Free State Cheetahs team.

Saturday’s early match will see another winless team, ORC Griquas, host a struggling Steval Pumas outfit in Kimberley. Although the Pumas have 2 wins to their credit, including beating the Cell C Sharks in Round 1, they have struggled to maintain their early momentum.

The 3rd-placed DHL Western Province, who are a full 9 points behind the Golden Lions, face the Cell C Sharks in Durban in Round 6 – both desperate for some consistency in a season where promising victories have been soured by disappointing defeats.

Then, of course, we head to Pretoria for what may well be 1 of the best matches of the season.

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho Mohoje

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will have a new captain when they tackle the winless Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje, who failed to make the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad, will lead the Free State Cheetahs out in this Round 6 encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Mohoje takes over form regular captain Francois Uys, who will play off the bench on Friday.

The Springbok loose forward (Mohoje) and Henco Venter will be switching places – with Mohoje included in the starting line-up, with Venter on the bench.

Other changes to the pack will see Reniel Hugo starting at lock ahead of Uys.

Jacques du Toit will start at hooker ahead of Elandre Hugget, who drops down to the replacement bench.

The only backline change will see Springbok Cornal Hendricks make his Currie Cup debut for the Free State Cheetahs, replacing fellow Springbok discard Raymond Rhule on left wing.

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho Mohoje

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will play Springbok Teboho Mohojé off the bench when they take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday.

The Currie Cup Round 5 match in Pretoria will see Mohojé rejoin the Free State Cheetahs after failing to make the cut for the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup squad.

Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith made just 1 change to the starting 15 for the trip to Loftus Versfeld.

Jacques du Toit and Elandre Hugget switch places at hooker, with Huggett starting and Du Toit on the bench.

While Mohoje found a spot on the Free State Cheetahs bench, there was no place in the matchday 22 for the Free State Cheetahs’ other discarded Springbok, wing Cornal Hendricks.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions swopped places with the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Top of the ABSA Currie Cup standings after their comprehensive 41 / 11 win over the Steval Pumas on Friday in Nelspruit, with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff contributing 21 points with the boot.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls proved too strong for ORC Griquas in their Premier Division clash on Saturday in Kimberley and although they won their match comfortably by 46 / 32, they slipped to 2nd spot on the Log after the completion of Round 4, on points difference.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks scored a close-fought 24 / 20 win over the Eastern Province Kings after they overturned a 7 / 13 halftime deficit in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

DHL Western Province, the defending champions, suffered their 2nd successive away loss when the Toyota Free State Cheetahs pipped them by 28 / 21 in Bloemfontein on Friday evening despite a spirited rally in the 2nd half.

After 4 Rounds it is the Golden Lions now leading the Log thanks to their 30-point win in Nelspruit, closely followed by the Blue Bulls. The neighbours both have the maximum 20 points from 4 matches. Western Province and Free State Cheetahs (both 10 points) are 3rd and 4th, with the Sharks 5th and now just 1 point behind them. The Pumas (8 points), EP Kings (3 points) and Griquas (1 point) complete the standings.

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BG 'Burrie' Uys

BG ‘Burrie’ Uys

Toyota Free State Free State Cheetahs’ coach Franco Smith has made just 1 change to his team to take on DHL Western Province in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Smith has opted for consistency, sticking with his troops that defeated Griquas 31 / 9 in Kimberly last weekend barring 1 change in the front row.

The change sees BG ‘Burrie’ Uys start at loosehead prop, while Caylib Oosthuizen moves to the bench in place of Maks van Dyk, who has been released to play for the Barbarians against Samoa in London.

Tertius Kruger also slots into the replacements, with the injured Tienie Burger missing out.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Vodacom Blue Bulls turned in a fantastic 2nd-half performance to hand defending ABSA Currie Cup champions, the DHL Western Province, their 1st defeat of the season in a pulsating 47 / 29 win at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The thrilling win was a perfect gift for veteran prop Werner Kruger, who played in his 100th ABSA Currie Cup match for the Blue Bulls.

It was the 1st time since 2012 that the Blue Bulls ran out winners in the traditional North versus South encounter.

Thanks to their outstanding display the Blue Bulls consolidated their Top spot on the Premier Division standings and they now have 15 points from 3 matches, which all were all clinched with convincing bonus-point victories.

The new generation of Blue Bulls were superbly led by 2014 Junior Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant and veteran scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and they were also the only outfit to register a home win this weekend.

Gelant, also a Springbok Sevens international, displayed his wonderful assortment of attacking skills and was deservedly awarded the ABSA Man of the Match award.

The Xerox Golden Lions held off a determined challenge from the Cell C Sharks on their way to a 31 / 16 (halftime 7 / 6) win at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday. The Sharks led by a single point after 61 minutes but the Golden Lions ensured that they remain unbeaten by turning in a strong final quarter as they ran in 3 tries to hand the Sharks their 2nd loss in 3 games.

On Friday night in Kimberley, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, spearheaded by pivot Fred Zeilinga, notched their 1st win of the campaign when they outplayed the ORC Griquas 31 / 9 (halftime 10 / 9).

Flyhalf JC Roos kicked 5 penalties as the Steval Pumas edged the Eastern Province Kings 15 / 13 after leading 6 / 3 in the other Friday evening clash in Port Elizabeth.

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ABSA Currie Cup2 Of the tournament’s pace-setters are going head-to-head on Saturday. But it is no ordinary match. It is the BIG north-south derby – the Vodacom Blue Bulls hosting DHL Western Province in the feature match of the weekend, when they meet in Pretoria on Saturday.

They are 2 of only 3 remaining unbeaten sides.

However, before we get there we have 2 Friday games – which will feature 3 teams still seeking their 1st win.

The winless Eastern Province Kings host an ambitious Steval Pumas team in Port Elizabeth, while the central unions partners (and rivals) ORC Griquas and Toyota Free State Cheetahs will meet in Kimberley.

Griquas and Cheetahs are also both still winless.

The Cell C Sharks, fresh from their 1st win of the season, host the high-flying Xerox Golden Lions in Saturday’s early match before we get to the BIG derby at Loftus Versfeld.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls are currently sitting at Top of the standings – as a result of their greater points difference over their Gauteng neighbours, the Xerox Golden Lions – with both on a full-house 10 Log points.

DHL Western Province are 1 Log point further back (9) in 3rd place.

The Cell C Sharks (5 points), Steval Pumas (4), Toyota Free State Cheetahs (1), EP Kings (1) and ORC Griquas (1) trail behind the pace-setters.

We look at all the Round 3 matches!

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Sergeal Petersen

Sergeal Petersen

Wing Sergeal Petersen is set to make his Toyota Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup debut for the showdown against ORC Griquas on Friday.

Petersen, who has now signed a full-time deal in Bloemfontein, has not featured yet for the Free State outfit in this years’ Currie Cup but will occupy the right wing position on Friday.

The 21-year-old has already made 5 Super Rugby appearnces for the Toyota Cheetahs and holds 3 Vodacom Cup caps for Free State, while he was on loan from the EP Kings.

Petersen’s inclusion sees Clayton Blommetjies move to fullback in place of the injured Adriaan Coertzen. Coertzen has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

The only other forced change to the starting line-up is Gerhard Olivier coming in at openside flank for the injured Boom Prinsloo (broken jaw).

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Free State CheetahsToyota Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his team for their Currie Cup clash against DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday (15:00 SA Time kick-off).

Smith made 5 changes to his starting team from the one which lost 57 / 19 to the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein last weekend.

Fred Zeilinga, who was recently recruited from the Cell C Sharks, will start at flyhalf in place of Niel Marais, while AJ Coertzen replaces Coenie van Wyk at fullback.

Up front, Neil Jordaan will start at No 8, sending Gerhard Olivier to the bench.

Armandt Koster also replaces Willem Serfontein at lock, while Jacques du Toit comes in for Niel Raubenheimer at hooker.

Meanwhile, Elandre Hugget, Tertius Kruger and Sias Ebersohn are newcomers on the bench.

Ebersohn is back in Bloemfontein having spent the last few years at Australian franchise, the Western Force.

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Free State CheetahsVodacom Blue BullsFS Cheetahs (7) 19 / 57 (27) Blue Bulls (Final Score)

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division at

Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein at 14:15 SA Time (12:15 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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Franco Smith

Franco Smith

Toyota Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his team for their ABSA Currie Cup opener against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein on Saturday (14:15 SA Time kick-off).

Francois Uys, who led the team in Super Rugby, has retained the captaincy for the Currie Cup.

It’s a relatively inexperienced Cheetahs line-up, with left wing Raymond Rhule the only Springbok.

Niel Marais, who was a star for Shimlas in this year’s Varsity Cup, starts at flyhalf, with Shaun Venter at scrumhalf.

Up front, the Cheetahs will lean heavily on the experience of flank Boom Prinsloo as well as skipper Uys.

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Maks van Dyk

Maks van Dyk

The Eastern Province Kings’ stuttering build-up to the Currie Cup season had another wobble on Tuesday.

Despite the players’ outstanding salaries having been paid last week, prop Nicolaas ‘Maks’ van Dyk has abruptly ended his short stint in Port Elizabeth and headed back to Bloemfontein.

In a statement on Tuesday Eastern Province Rugby Union President Cheeky Watson confirmed the union and Van Dyk have mutually agreed to part ways.

The front row forward has decided to rejoin the Cheetahs ahead of the Currie Cup season.

The player’s departure comes just days before the Kings host the Golden Lions, 1 of the pre-tournament favourites, in the opening Round of the Currie Cup competition in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

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Os du Randt congratulated with the Verblitz deal

Os du Randt congratulated with the Verblitz deal

2-Time World Cup-winning Springbok Os du Randt will join Japanese club Verblitz in a new deal with the Cheetahs.

It was announced on Saturday that the 2 teams – the Toyota Cheetahs from Bloemfontein and the Verblitz side from Aichi in Japan – will exchange personnel.

The deal, established through the Toyota motor vehicle company that sponsors both teams, will see Du Randt become the forwards and scrum coach of Verblitz – as a 1st step of the partnership.

Following the exodus of South African players to Japan in recent years, this has been identified as an opportunity for both teams to foster talent.

It will see selected players and coaches being utilised – with players given the opportunity to play in Japan for the Verblitz club during their regular season (South Africa’s Currie Cup season) and return to play Super Rugby for the Toyota Cheetahs.

1 Of the main benefits of the programme include the joint contracting of players from outside the Cheetahs squad.

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Naka Drotske

Naka Drotske

The Toyota Cheetahs todat announced that Naka Drotske has will step down as Toyota Cheetahs Super Rugby coach at the end of this Super Rugby Season in order to persue business interests.

In addition, scrum coach Os du Randt has indicated that he will also be leaving the Cheetahs to go overseas and to persue coaching career opportunities abroad after completing his stint in Super Rugby this year. The whereabouts of his overseas tenure has not been made known yet.

But that’s not all, folks, Hawies Fourie, the Toyota Cheetahs backline coach wil also return to GWK Griquas to take up the Head Coaching position at the end of Super Rugby.

Franco Smith, who was named the Toyota Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup coach for 2015 earlier this week, will take up the position as Super Rugby head coach at the Toyota Cheetahs in the place of Naka Drotske.

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Franco Smith

Franco Smith

Varsity Cup-winning coach Franco Smith has been appointed the head coach of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs for this year’s ABSA Currie Cup campaign.

While it was expected that Smith may also be given the reigns of the Toyota Cheetahs Super Rugby franchise, this wasn’t announced with current coach Naka Drotske still continuing in his contract until the end of October 2016.

In addition Rory Duncan, who coached the side alongside Smith in the Currie Cup last year, will from now on be the Director of Coaching and will handle all rugby matters for the franchise from now on.

“We want to make it clear that Naka Drotske, his coaching team and the current structures continue unabated in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition. Any media reports concerning Drotske’s position is pure speculation and is not accurate. Drotske has a contract with the Toyota Free State Cheetahs that expires on 30 October 2016,” a statement from the union said.

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Franco Smith

Franco Smith

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have offered Shimlas coach Franco Smith the job as head coach of their Currie Cup side.

Ryno Opperman, chairperson of the Free State Cheetahs Company’s board, confirmed the news.

The 42-year-old Smith was earlier contracted as backline coach of the Free State Cheetahs’ Currie Cup team, but after leading Shimlas to their maiden Varsity Cup title, the Cheetahs want to promote him to head coach.

“A written offer is being drawn up for Franco to serve as Currie Cup head coach from the 2015 competition,” said Opperman.

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Vodacom CupThere were tries aplenty as the Vodacom Cup moved up a gear with the quarter-finals moving into sight for the 16 teams vying for the title.

In the South Section, the SWD Eagles probably delivered the biggest upset as they outplayed the Cell C Sharks XV in George on Friday evening, winning comfortably by 36 / 13 after a superb 2nd half performance where they scored 29 unanswered points.

GWK Griquas showed they will not let go of their title without a proper fight as they completely outclassed the Boland Cavaliers by 62 / 19 in Velddrif on Saturday afternoon, while the Toyota Free State XV beat the EP Kings by 50 / 45 in an extraordinary match in Bloemfontein where the scorers with still tied at 42 / 42 with only 5 minutes remaining on the clock.

DHL Western Province were predictably too strong for the Border Bulldogs as they cemented their position at the top of the South Section log with a 34 / 6 win on Saturday afternoon.

In the North Section, last weekend’s log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, enjoyed a BYE and was overtaken at the top of the standings by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, who beat the Down Touch Griffons by 40 / 21 in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.

The Steval Pumas’ 31 / 23 victory over the Leopards XV in Potchefstroom on Friday means the race to the top of the North Section log is now effectively between 3 teams.

The FNB Welwitschias recorded their 1st win of the season when they beat the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls by 24 / 17 in Windhoek on Saturday afternoon.

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Rugby-Talk RWC 2015

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