GARETH DUNCAN previews the upcoming Currie Cup clashes this weekend.
GRIQUAS vs BLUE BULLS, PRETORIA, SAT 15:00
The Bulls have suffered a poor first round to their domestic campaign, which sees them sitting at the bottom of the standings. They are currently on a two-match losing streak, following defeats to WP (42-6) and the Lions (32-23), so head coach Pine Pienaar will be under immense pressure to lead his team to victory in Kimberley.
But it won’t come easy at GWK Park.
Griquas are a tough challenge on their hard home turf. They will be full of confidence after beating the Lions and Sharks over consecutive weekends. Former Bull players flank Marnus Schoeman and flyhalf Francois Brummer have also been in good form – Schoeman has been a menace at the breakdowns and shown a high work-rate, while Brummer has been very accurate with the boot.
However, the Bulls’ desperation should be more telling than Griquas’ belief in securing a hat-trick of triumphs. I’m not saying it will come easy, but the Pretoria union boasts better individual quality.
This was the difference when the Bulls claimed a 35-20 victory against the same opposition on the opening Saturday. Expect the visitors to win this physical affair.
Griquas – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Wesley Wilkins (c), 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Rynhardt Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Matt Dobson, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Richard Lawson.
Blue Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Dewald Potgieter (c), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Gareth’s prediction: Bulls by 8
FREE STATE CHEETAHS vs GOLDEN LIONS, BLOEMFONTEIN, SAT 17:00
Lions head coach Johan Ackermann believes the first team to find consistency will go on and win the Currie Cup.
None of the six teams has been consistent in terms of performance or selection so far. But Ackermann has given his team a platform to build on their 80-minute showing displayed during the 32-23 win over the Blue Bulls last Saturday. He made no changes to the starting line-up, which did well at Loftus Versfeld.
They showed great variety on attack in Pretoria, and will want to improve defensively against Free State.
The immediate departure of former skipper Josh Strauss has been an off-field distraction, but Ackermann believes he has the depth to cover the loss – especially since Strauss missed out on the game against the Bulls due to concussion.
The Lions will be favourites as they come up against a Cheetahs side that has a few interesting selections.
Naka Drotske has picked scrumhalf specialist Tewis de Bruyn at flyhalf, because he boasts a better tactical kicking game than the out of form Sias Ebersohn. De Bruyn has made a few appearances in the position over the years, but he hasn’t ever made an major impact in the position. It will also be his first run at 10 this year. I don’t think this gamble will pay off, especially against an in-form Elton Jantjies.
No 8 Hendro Scholtz, who has recently come out of retirement, will be expected to add some grunt up front. Gaining ascendancy in the forwards battle will be Free State’s best chance of winning this match. But the Lions should be able to do the business in Bloem.
Free Sate Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Tewis du Bruyn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Hendro Scholtz, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Sias Ebersohn, 21 Phillip Snyman, 22 Rayno Benjamin.
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Willie Britz, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco Van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco Taute.
Gareth’s prediction: Lions by 8
SHARKS vs WP, DURBAN, SAT 19:00
The Sharks enjoyed strong start to the Currie Cup season, which included a 25-23 win over WP on the opening weekend of the tournament. However, John Plumtree’s men will come up against a different Province outfit this Saturday – one that boasts more confidence and cohesion.
WP have proved to be in the in-form team at the moment as they recorded comfortable wins over Free State (29-22) and the Bulls (42-6). This sees them top the log.
The performances of their forwards, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis and inside Marcel Brache have been pivotal during these victories, and Allister Coetzee will need these players to step up if they want to stand any chance of victory at Kings Park.
However, the Sharks will be desperate to bounce back at home after their disappointing loss to Griquas in Kimberley last weekend. They have a more established loose trio, and Tim Whitehead is a very good injury replacement for Paul Jordaan in the midfield. Meyer Bosman has also been outstanding in front of goal, and his accuracy from the kicking tee could give the Durban union the needed edge.
Sharks - 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandré Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Brynard Stander, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 S’bura Sithole.
WP – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Deon Carstens.
Subs: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Tom Botha, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Joe Pietersen.
Gareth’s predicition: Sharks by 6