Visitors to take Saturday’s spoils

The returning Springboks will inspire both WP and the Blue Bulls to big victories in what should be an entertaining weekend of Absa Currie Cup rugby.

It’s do or die for the Capetonians as the domestic competition enters the business end, and for the Bully Boys this Saturday marks a great opportunity to build on their lead at the top of the table. Keo.co.za looks at this week’s fixtures and picks the winners.

VALKE vs LIONS, BRAKPAN, FRIDAY, 19.10

The Lions would expect to beat a full strength Valke outfit and given the hosts are missing seven first-choice players, Cobus Grobbelaar and co will surely target the four-try bonus. Lions No 8 Willem Alberts is out injured, but Ernst Joubert is an adequate replacement in a back row that should decimate the Valke loose trio. If the Lions don’t click, they’ll win. If they do click, they’ll win big.

Prediction: Lions by 15.

Lions – 15 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Trompie Nontshinga, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Chris Jonck, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Franco van der Merwe, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (c), 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Lawrence Sephaka, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Derrick Minnie, 19 Justin Wheeler, 20 Walter Venter, 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Rayno Benjamin.

Valke – 15 Johan Jackson, 14 Dewald Pretorius, 13 Ernie Kruger, 12 Hanno Coetzee (c), 11, Johan Swartz, 10 Len Olivier, 9 Poerie van Rooyen, 8 Sean Plaatjies, 7 Johan de Bruin, 6 Warren Perkins, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Ruhan van Jaarsveld, 3 Nico Pretorius, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Gavin Whittingham.
Subs: 16 Jody Jenneker, 17 Frik Venter, 18 Wouter Moore, 19 Reg Muller/Emile Verster, 20 Gerrie Odendaal, 20 Showan Smith 22 Jeff Perkins.

CHEETAHS vs WP, BLOEMFONTEIN, SATURDAY, 15.00

The Springboks are back on the domestic scene, and that puts a very different spin on proceedings. The Cheetahs welcome back Juan Smith and Adriaan Strauss, but WP see seven Boks returning from Tri-Nations duty.

Free State have the momentum, but they cannot match WP for personnel. The breakdown will be fiercely contested, but with Heinrich Brussow still making his comeback from the bench they may be lacking the fetching quality needed to best Luke Watson and Schalk Burger on the ground. Brian Mujati should hold Wian du Preez up front while the Cheetahs lineout, as competitive as they are, will be second to the combination of Andries Bekker and Adriaan Fondse.

The loss of pivot Chris Rossouw will be felt by the Cheetahs. Tewis de Bruyn has a steady boot but is still not as accurate as the first-choice flyhalf. Province also have the edge in terms of experience and firepower out wide. The Free Staters will put up a brave fight on home turf, but ultimately the class of the Bok-packed WP side will shine through.

Prediction: WP by 5.

Cheetahs – 15 Bevin Fortuin, 14 Wilton Pietersen, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Fabian Juries, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Neil Powell, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 David de Villiers, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Subs: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Phillip Lemmer, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Heinrich Brussow, 20 JW Jonker, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Kabamba Floors.

Western Province - 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Joe Pietersen, 22 Wylie Human.

GRIQUAS vs BOLAND, KIMBERLEY, SATURDAY, 15.00

This match is a crucial one as far as relegation is concerned, and although Boland earned the right to compete in the Premier Division this season they’ll be determined to avoid that scrap this time round. However, Griquas at home are a tough prospect as many a bigger side will admit. They recently beat the Valke 59-19 on this very paddock, and the Kavaliers could be in for similar treatment this Saturday.

Prediction: Griquas by 10.

Griquas – 15-Riaan Viljoen, 14-Bjorn Basson, 13-Barry Geel, 12-Herkie Kruger, 11- MJ Mentz, 10-Conrad Barnard, 9-Sarel Pretorius, 8-Heinrich Stride, 7-Stephan Gerber, 6-Gareth Krause (c), 5-Brendon Snyman, 4-Wayne van Heerden, 3-Bees Roux, 2-Hans van Dyk, 1-Regardt Dreyer.
Subs: 16-James van der Walt, 17-Albertus Buckle, 18-Ruaan du Preez, 19-Jacques Lombaard, 20-Rohan Kitshoff, 21-Tobie Botes, 22-Jaco Bekker.

Boland – 15-Justin Peach, 14-Cornel Hendricks, 13-Piet van Zyl (c), 12-Lionel Cornelius, 11-Alvin Hugo, 10-Elgar Watts, 9-Hugo Marnus, 8-Dries van Schalkwyk, 7-Angelo Brinkhuys, 6-Zolani Mofu, 5-Bradley Mockford, 4-Nico Esterhuyse, 3-WP Nel, 2-Harry Vermaas, 1-Janro van Niekerk.
Subs: 16-Peter Wium, 17-Jean Botha, 18-Cecil Kemp, 19-Whalied Heyns, 20-Neil Papier, 21-Deon Scholtz, 22-Renfred Dazel.

SHARKS vs BLUE BULLS, DURBAN, SATURDAY, 17.05

Five Springboks are back on either side which would suggest neither team will have an unfair advantage as is the case in the Bloem fixture. But when you consider which players are back, you’d have to pick the Bulls to take the spoils, even if this game is being staged at the Shark Tank.

Victor Matfield will resume his role as the Bulls’ lineout kingpin, and Danie Rossouw and Pierre Spies will provide two more world class options at this set piece. The breakdown is also weighted in the Bulls favour with Wikus van Heerden and Deon Stegmann thriving in tandem, and the extra ball-carrying option of Spies is certain to suit the Bulls’ game plan.

The men from Pretoria have played direct and effective rugby this season, and it’s hardly surprising to see them topping the log. In-form flyhalf Morne Steyn should further benefit from Fourie du Preez on his inside and the attacking prowess of Bryan Habana will test the Sharks defence. The Sharks will be glad to have Frans Steyn back and Jannie du Plessis should have an impact up front, but the Bulls have been the better unit throughout the competition and will be further boosted by the return of their big guns.

Prediction: Bulls by 3.

Sharks – 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Waylon Murray, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (c), 4 Alistair Hargreaves, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Skipper Badenhorst, 1 Deon Carstens.
Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Albert van den Berg, 20 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 JP Pietersen.

Blue Bulls - 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Wikus van Heerden , 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Jaco Engels.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Juandré Kruger, 19 Gurthro Steenkamp, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Dewald Potgieter.

By Jon Cardinelli