Preview: Currie Cup, Round two

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:25
Large fred zeilinga sharks
Round Two of the Currie Cup should see some of the rust and jitters falling, away as the teams start to look for some dominance.
Round Two of the Currie Cup should see some of the rust and jitters falling away, as the teams start to look for some dominance in South Africa's premier provincial competition.
There is a full-house of fixtures - with the Lions enjoying their second successive home game, when they host the Eastern Province Kings, who lost at home against Western Province last weekend.
The Blue Bulls face another tough game away from Loftus Versfeld, after they received a hiding against the Lions at Ellis Park. It certainly doesn't get any easier, as the men from Pretoria head to Newlands this Saturday.
There will be very little neighbourly love in Bloemfontein, when the Free State Cheetahs hosting the Griquas in a Central Unions derby, both teams having suffered close losses against the Pumas and Sharks respectively. No doubt both are determined to bounce back.
The weekend's drama gets underway on Friday, with two victors from the previous round. The Sharks will host Jimmy Stonehouse's Pumas, who will be riding high after putting away the Cheetahs in their return to Currie Cup action.
Friday, August 15
Sharks v Pumas
(Kings Park Stadium, Durban - Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT))
The Sharks return home after overcoming a red-card-weakened Griquas team by a small margin. However, as they say: A win is a win and the coastal boys will be hoping to overcome on another 'minnow'.
The Sharks have named a similar team to the one that started against the Griquas, with the biggest news being the return of Pat Lambie from the Springbok squad.
The often injured flyhalf has been released from the Springboks in a bid to get him some gametime, with Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson starting him off the bench.
Although the Pumas are considered one of the minnow teams of the competition, the Sharks coach is not slipping into complacency.
"They're a very good side, they've only lost two or three games in the last two years," Macleod-Henderson said
"Their players have been together as a team for a while now and they know where they're going.
"They're well-structured and we'll need to perform well on Friday to get the result."
For the Pumas it may have been a dream start, but coach Jimmy Stonehouse has said from the beginning that they are not looking to get knocked out of the competition after just arriving.
He is well-aware of the threats the Sharks will pose, having watched the development of the costal team's game through Super Rugby.
"The Sharks will be looking to take us on up front," Stonehouse said.
"If we can manage them in the scrums and the line-outs we still have to be aware of their backline though.
"We know their strength lies in their backline, I think if we can hold up in our defence we can do well against them."
Recent results:
2011 Sharks won 23-22, Witbank
2011 Sharks won 33-20, Durban
2010 Sharks won 30-14, Witbank
2010 Sharks won 27-17, Durban
Prediction: It is always a tough one when the bigger unions play the minnows because it becomes an exercise of heart versus depth. The Sharks are flexing their depth with Pat Lambie on the bench and the ability to call on a number of experienced and skilled players. For the Pumas, they have shown they have massive amounts of heart in beating the Cheetahs, but it may be a bridge too far when they face the Sharks in Durban. Sharks by 10
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (captain), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lionel Cronjé.
Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Jerome Pretorius, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 DeJay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Rosco Speckman, 21 JC Roos, 22 Heinrich Steyl.
Referee: Christie du Preez
Assistant referees: Lesego Legoete, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Willie Vos
Saturday, August 16
Western Province v Blue Bulls
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 14.00 (12.00 GMT))
Both of these teams have very impressive line-ups on paper - with the Bulls boasting six Springboks in the starting line-up, while Province's team is totally capped at Super Rugby level.
The Bulls, with their team full of stars, had a rude awakening against the Lions in Johannesburg last weekend and for Frans Ludeke the trip down to Cape Town does not look any easier.
"We identified the first two away matches of the campaign as huge obstacles in our way and last week was indeed that," Ludeke said.
"We've buried last week's performance and now focus on what we can deliver against a very competent Western Province side.
"We know only too well that this is a massive opportunity for us to show our character and drive for success."
WP will be hoping that they can keep their campaign on a roll with another victory, but coach Allister Coetzee is not looking at the Bulls' poor performance as a a marker for their potential.
"What happened last week matters for nothing, for both us and the Bulls,” said Coetzee.
“There is no such thing as a weak Blue Bulls side and you only have to think back to last year’s Currie Cup encounter between our two teams when a young Bulls team was a conversion away from beating us.
“We’re preparing for a tough encounter against the Bulls, as always, and we’re certainly determined to give a good account of ourselves in front of our home fans at Newlands.”
Recent results:
2013  Western Province drew with Blue Bulls 24-24, Cape Town
2013  Western Province won 29-18, Pretoria
2012  Western Province won 42-6, Cape Town
2012  Blue Bulls won 26-13, Pretoria
2011  Blue Bulls won 28-20, Pretoria
2011  Western Province won 35-7 Cape Town
2010  Western Province won 15-12, Cape Town
2010  Blue Bulls won 36-32, Pretoria
Prediction: Looking at the recent results, there is a clear pattern that develops - the home team predominantly wins. This obviously bodes well for WP who have stated that they were suffering from rust against the Kings - but still managed the win. They now return to Cape Town to face the Bulls who have also stated that the two away games at the start will be tough obstacles to overcome. The Bulls will want to try and use their consistency and star quality as soon as possible, but it may be a stretch to overcome their hammering at the hands of the Lions. WP by seven.
Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Jaco Taute.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (captain), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Quinton Immelman
TMO: Jason Jaftha
Golden Lions v EP Kings
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off 14.30 (12.30 GMT))
It must be getting quite comfy in Johannesburg for the Lions, who are back there this weekend to face the EP Kings.
The Lions put in a massive performace when they upstaged the much-fancied Bulls team by a staggering 41-13, but coach Johan Ackermann will be aware that the tone may be set, but that does not mean it will always be executed as such.
There will be a little bit of bitterness between these two when they face off, with the Kings poaching the Lions' Super Rugby spot in 2013 only for the Lions to have won it back through a promotion-relegation series.
Ackermann will know his opposition well having had a couple of close calls with the men from PE.
"We all know they [the Kings] have been preparing well in advance [for the season]," Ackermann said
"They pulled a team aside and had weeks and weeks of a build-up.
"I feel they will improve throughout the competition as they get more used to the level [standards] and intensity of the Currie Cup.
"They are a balanced team that should never be underestimated.
The EP Kings' re-emergence into the Currie Cup did not get off the best of starts, but it is not all gloom and doom for them as they take their time to hit their straps.
On a weekend full of scrappy games, the Kings seemed to be slow in getting into the swing of things, but there were definitely patches of potential.
The Kings captain, Luke Watson, is well-aware of what an impressive unit the Lions have become with them bringing a lot of their Super Rugby form into the provincial sphere.
"The Lions are a quality outfit," Watson said.
"They are a very well balanced side and I think they are one of the few sides in South African rugby that are prepared to do anything at anytime, in any position on the field.
"They like to have a go and play unpredictable and unconventional rugby which at times is difficult to defend, on top of that they have a very good set-piece.
"Their forwards present a very unique challenge, a good balance of youth and experience and a team that definitely plays for each other.
"I think Johann Ackermann has done a fantastic job in establishing a great culture."
Recent results:
Prediction: The Lions have set the tone for their season early one and seem like one of the only major unions that are carry some sort of good form from the Super Rugby campaign. They look well structured and sure in themselves as if there has been no break in their play. On the other hand, the Kings, even with the longest time to prepare, still look a little match-shy - but it is clear coach Carlo Spencer is trying to remedy that but sticking to his selection guns. In the end, it may still be a little to early in the season for the Kings to be firing at 100 percent so expect the Lions to continue where they left off by putting 14 points on them.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee,1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Guy Cronje, 21 Albertus Smith, 22 Howard Mnisi.
EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Tobie Botes, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka/BG Uys. 
Replacements: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 CJ vd Linde, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Aidon Davis, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Francois Pretorius, Siege van Staden
TMO: Willie Vos
Cheetahs v Griquas
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT))
It will be two of last week's losers up against each other with plenty to prove after both teams came within seven points against the Sharks and Pumas.
The Cheetahs have been hit hard in two respects with regard to selections. The Springboks have cleaned out the Free State team fairly substantially - something they are not too used to.
They have also had injury concerns, and although they welcome back Jean Cook and Elgar Watts for this weekend they are still with out the two Oosthuizens - Coenie and Caylib.
The Cheetahs looked poor against the Pumas last weekend, but coach Rory Duncan will be hoping that they have seen the errors of their ways and can now crack on.
For the Griquas, there was some reprieve as centre Jonathan Francke's red card was not upheld after SARU disciplinary hearing cleared him of the indiscretion.
Another aspect that the Griquas will hope to improve upon is their scrummaging, especially with the Cheetahs missing two front-line props.
"Our defence from first phases were just not good enough at times," Griquas coach Hawies Fourie said
"Our scrumming will also require some attention - the Sharks, after the first 10 to 15 minutes were in control at the scrums and I am sure the Cheetahs will target us in that aspect."
"Thomas du Toit [rookie Sharks prop] has shown, in a very short time this year, that he is a very powerful scrummager."
Recent results:
2013 Free State Cheetahs won 52-21, Kimberley
2013 Free State Cheetahs won 40-20, Bloemfontein
2012 Free State Cheetahs won 29-16, Kimberley
2012 Free State Cheetahs won 35-20, Bloemfontein
2011 Free State Cheetahs won 49-39, Bloemfontein
2011 Griquas won 23-20, Kimberley
2010 Free State Cheetahs won 28-33, Kimberley
2010 Free State Cheetahs won 33-26, Bloemfontein
Prediction: The recent results do not make good reading for Griquas fans with the Cheetahs dominating all but one of the past eight encounters - be it home or away. Although both teams will be looking to bounce back after their respective defeats it seems that the odds will be more stacked against the Griquas. Once again, it is a bigger union against a smaller one with the big guys at home - with returning players to bolster them. For the Griquas, they may have done fantastically well in the qualifying rounds, but this step up seems to have daunted the diamond-miners. Cheetahs by 8.
Cheetahs: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Johannes Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Kevin Stevens.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Rudolph Botha, 18 Niel Claassen, 19 Waltie Vermeulen, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 JP du Plessis.
Griquas: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Edries Arendse, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Wayne Stevens (captain), 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Nicolaas van Dyk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Burger Schoeman, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Marais Schmidt, 22 Jonathan Francke.
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant referees: Lesego Legoete, Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 20 April 2018
Blues v Highlanders 07h35 Eden Park
Waratahs v Lions 09h45 Sydney
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 21 April 2018
Crusaders v Sunwolves 07h35 Christchurch
Reds v Chiefs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Bulls v Rebels 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Leinster v Scarlets 14h30 Dublin
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Durban
Zebre v Ospreys 16h45 Parma
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 17h05 Kingspan Stadium
Sun, 22 April 2018
Brumbies v Jaguares 06h05 Canberra
Racing Metro v Munster 14h15 Paris
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26