PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Two
CURRIE CUP PREMIER DIVISION: The Currie Cup will be in full swing this weekend with the Golden Lions, Eastern Province Kings and Griquas kicking off their Premier Division campaigns.
The EP Kings will kick off their season with a clash against Boland at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday, which will be followed by the clash between Griquas and the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban.
In Saturday's matches, the defending-champion the Golden Lions will meet the Pumas at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and the Free State Cheetahs will host the Blue Bulls at the Stadium in Bloemfontein.
We take a look at all the Round Two action!
EP Kings v Boland
Both the EP Kings and Boland will be looking to build confidence early in the season.
The Cavaliers went down 16-44 against the Free State Cheetahs in the opening round, but they will be buoyed by a 37-18 win over Eastern Province in Wellington in their Qualifier in April.
Experienced prop Schalk Ferreira will captain the Kings, while they will also rely heavily on the experience of centre Waylon Murray and wing Sampie Mastriet, who are on loan from the Sharks and Golden Lions respectively.
"Boland have some strong ball carriers and a big forward pack and we are expecting them to take us on up front, so it is important for us to focus on slowing their momentum," said EP Kings head coach Barend Pieterse
Pieterse said the players were still getting to know each other and the situation was not ideal but said everyone was putting in the time to get to know the various plays.
"We are where we are at the moment and there is no turning back," he said
Kings captain Ferreira said he was looking forward to fulfilling the leadership role for the season.
"We are a new squad, but this is a blank canvas and it is an opportunity for the players to make their name known, playing in the biggest national rugby competition in South Africa," he said.
Prediction: With all the chaos going on behind the scenes at EP Kings, we don't expect them to start on a winning note. Expect Boland to win by at least 15 points.
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Alcino Isaacs, 13 Johan Tromp, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Ricky Schroeder, 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Sebastian Ferreira, 6 Vince Jhobo, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Vukile Sofisa, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Justin Forwood, 18 David Antonites, 19 Brandon Brown, 20 Jacques Fick, 21 Burton Klaasen, 22 Lungelo Goza.
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Sergio Torrens, 13 Ryan Nell (captain), 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Adriaan Carelse, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandré Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Kenan Cronje, 5 Hanno Kitshoff, 4 Shaun McDondald, 3 Basil Short, 2 Chadley Wenn, 1 Stephanus Wessels.
Replacements: 16 Francois Esterhuizen, 17 Francois Hanekom, 18 Joubert Horn, 19 Chaney Willemse, 20 Jovelian de Koker, 21 William van Wyk, 22 Craig Pheiffer.
Date: Friday, August 12
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Rodney Boneparte
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, JP Clements
TMO: Christie du Preez
Sharks v Griquas
In Durban, Griquas will look to build on the form that guided them to 11 wins in 14 matches in the Currie Cup Qualifiers.
The men from Kimberley defeated the Sharks in their last two matches played in Durban, but they will brace themselves for a tough challenge on Friday as the home team features a handful of Super Rugby players.
Sharks prop Dale Chadwick will earn his 50th provincial cap in the match.
"It was a good start against the Pumas, but there are still quite a few things to work on. I was happy with the intention and effort shown by the players," said Sharks head coach Robert du Preez.
"Griquas are a very tough side, very physical and we’re going to have to bring our A-game to beat them.
"We've got to set the standard; we started well but we have to improve and we’re here at home."
Prediction: Griquas will provide the Sharks with a sterner test than the Pumas, but the home side will still have too much firepower. The Sharks will win by 10 points.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Inny-Christian Radebe, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams/Odwa Ndungane, 22 Rhyno Smith.
Griquas: 15 Adriaan Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jacobus Jonker, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Clinton Swart, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 RJ Liebenberg (captain), 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jonathan Barry Janse van Rensburg, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Stephan Clyde Kotzé, 2 Marius Fourie, 1 Willem Andries Stephanus Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Abraham Jacobus le Roux, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Liam Hendricks, 19 Sias Koen, 20 Stephan Vermeulen, 21 Renier Botha, 22 Elgar Watts.
Date: Friday, August 12
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Ricus van der Hoven
TMO: Marius Jonker
Golden Lions v Pumas
The Golden Lions will bring some Super Rugby momentum into their opening match with a number of players who featured in the Final against the Hurricanes last weekend facing the Pumas this weekend.
The visitors, however, will be charged up to challenge them after going down against the Sharks last week.
History favours the men from Johannesburg, who have only suffered two defeats against the Nelspruit side in Johannesburg since 1996, the last of which was in 2010.
Lions head coach will be hoping that the players who were on the bench in Wellington will make the step up for the team against the Pumas
"Unfortunately, I could not rest the whole 23 - that would have been ideal, but we need the eight guys off the bench [ who played against the Hurricanes] to take that energy that they were holding back and put it into this Currie Cup," said Ackermann.
Prediction: Even though the Golden Lions are without a number of players, they are still a powerful team and should beat the Pumas by at least 20 points.
Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Koch Marx, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi , 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronjé (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jacques Nel.
Pumas: 15 Justin van Staden, 14 Jean-Paul Lewis, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Marlou van Niekerk, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Nardus van der Walt, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (captain), 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Kwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Herne Frank, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Jannie Stander, 19 Carel Greef, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Devon Williams.
Date: Saturday, August 13
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Sindile Ngcese, Vusi Msibi
TMO: Johan Greeff
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls
The Blue Bulls will be hunting their fifth successive victory against the Free State Cheetahs when the teams line up in Bloemfontein.
The Pretoria side won the last three Premier Division matches against their Bloemfontein counterparts and pipped them 20-17 in the Currie Cup Qualifiers earlier this year.
Before last year's defeat at home, however, the Free State Cheetahs won four and drew one of their last five matches against the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein.
Blue Bulls head coach Nollis Marais said the good performance delivered by his team last weekend against Western Province will mean nothing if the momentum cannot be maintained.
"We did well, especially in the first half against Western Province, but we cannot rest on our laurels. The Free State Cheetahs is packed with quality players all around their team and they will ask serious questions of our temperament and commitment, especially as it is their first home match in the Currie Cup. We need to be switched on for this one," said Marais.
Blue Bulls captain, Arno Botha, said they need to maintain an 80-minute effort.
"We stopped playing in that second half against WP and it almost destroyed the good work we did in the first half. We will have to play at our best if we want to leave Bloemfontein with points. The Cheetahs can punish you from anywhere on the field, so we need to really work hard on defence and use our chances on attack," Botha added.
Prediction: This will be a close one, but the Free State Cheetahs are the home team, so they should edge it by five points or less.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Justin Basson, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Maphutha Dolo.
Blue Bulls: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Dan Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Entienne Swanepoel, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Rudolph Snyman, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Duncan Matthews.
Date: Saturday, August 13
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17.10 (15.10 GMT)
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Archie Sehlako, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner