PREVIEW: Currie Cup, Round Four
CURRIE CUP PREMIER DIVISION: The Sharks will be looking to extend their unbeaten run when they face the Blue Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday.
The Sharks will be looking to secure their fourth back-to-back victory, while Western Province, the Pumas and the Eastern Province Kings look to register their first victories of the season.
The tournament's only other unbeaten side in the competition so far, the Free State Cheetahs, have a bye this weekend.
The Golden Lions and Boland kick things off on Friday when they meet in Johannesburg. Friday's other match sees the Pumas at home against Griquas.
On Saturday, the EP Kings host Western Province before the Sharks take on the Blue Bulls.
We take a look at all the Round Four action!
Friday, August 26:
Golden Lions v Boland Cavaliers
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off: 17.00; 15.00 GMT)
The clash between the Golden Lions and Boland at Ellis Park on Friday will be exciting as Boland will draw comfort from their 28-24 victory against the Johannesburg side in the Currie Cup Qualifiers despite last winning a Premier Division match against them in the 2000 season.
Spicing up the match, the hosts will be determined to bounce back from their defeat against Griquas last weekend, while Boland will give everything to register their first win in the Premier Division since 2009.
Boland coach Brent Janse van Rensburg believes the Lions will have a point to prove after last weekend's defeat
"The Lions are a very good team and are well coached," said Janse van Rensburg. "They will most certainly put together a big fight back after losing to the Griquas and I anticipate they will want to try to play us off our feet with tempo and intensity coming out the blocks to set the tone for the game.
"They challenge defences with their ball in hand approach. We will need to be better defensively this week and it is imperative that we match their intensity if we are to contain their attack.
"We currently have a number of injuries in our squad and this week will provide other players with an opportunity to fill the shoes of the injured players and take their opportunity. Work rate and a selfless effort from all players to play as a team is very important for us."
Prediction: The Golden Lions are just too strong at home and they will want to set things right after losing to Griquas. The Lions to win by at least 25 points.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Selom Gavor, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi (captain), 11 Antony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Steph de Wit, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Ruan Ackermann, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Bobby de Wee, 19 Cyle Brink, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Kock Marx, 22 John-Wessel Bell.
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Sergio Torrens, 13 Christopher Bosch, 12 Ryan Nel (captain), 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Gerhard Jordaan, 8 Wayne Wilschut, 7 Shaun McDonald, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Joubert Horn, 4 Hanno Kitshoff, 3 Basil Short, 2 Francois Esterhuizen, 1 Francois Hanekom.
Replacements: 16 Clemen Lewis, 17 Abongile Mnyaka, 18 Stephanus Wessels, 19 Ockie van Zyl, 20 Kenan Cronje, 21 Marnus Hugo, 22 Gerrit van Wyk.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Archie Sehlako, Pieter Maritz
TMO: JJ du Wagner
Pumas v Griquas
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
At the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, the Pumas will be searching for their first victory in four matches against Griquas and their first win in the competition.
But they will face tough competition as Griquas have scored over 30 points in the last three outings between the sides, while they also come off a morale-boosting victory against the defending champions.
"We recognise that we were outplayed in the first two games, but we feel like we’ve had very good preparations leading up this match," said Pumas head coach MJ Mentz.
"The guys are definitely feeling pumped and motivated to get their first win of the tournament."
Prediction: This is a real tough one to call. However, we think Griquas will carry that momentum they picked up against the Golden Lions and take it to Nelspruit. The men from Kimberley will win by five points.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Hennie Skorbinski, 12 Leighton van Wyk, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Emile Temperman, 8 Renaldo Bothma (captain), 7 Nardus van der Walt, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Frank Herne, 1 De-Jay Terblanche.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Jacques Kotze, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Marlou van Niekerk, 22 Hoffmann Maritz.
Griquas: 15 Adriaan Coertzen (captain), 14 Jacobus Jonker, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Stephan Kotzé, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Steve Meiring, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swart, 22 Eric Zana.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Alex Jonker
TMO: Willie Vos
Saturday, August 27:
Eastern Province Kings v Western Province
(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth - Kick-off: 16.00; 14.00 GMT)
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth will host the EP Kings and Western Province, both of whom are yet to win a match this season.
The EP Kings, whose best result against their Cape counterparts was a draw in 1999, will enter the match with a new-found confidence after testing the Blue Bulls last week in a match in which they scored five tries.
They will, however, have to tighten up their defence as they will face a visiting team with everything to play for after letting themselves down in their first two matches.
"They will be under a lot of pressure to secure the win," said EP Kings head coach Barend Pieterse.
Pieterse said the following week was going to be a big ask of the Kings squad, as they would be playing three games in the space of seven days, playing WP on Saturday, before facing Griquas in Kimberly on Wednesday evening and the playing the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein the following Saturday.
"This is the kind of situation you associate more with Craven Week than Currie Cup, but it is the situation we are faced with and we will do our best to deal with it." he said.
Western Province head coach John Dobson is hoping his team can turn the corner this weekend after losses to the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs.
"We were disappointed with our work ethic last Friday against the Cheetahs," said Dobson. "We made 11 handling errors - we are trying to develop our attack a bit wider and we are working on our ball security.
"The next three weeks are beyond important. The Kings game could not come at a better time for us. Hopefully, we can get some confidence going before we play the Sharks and Golden Lions."
Prediction: Western Province have looked ordinary this year. However, they seem to have more quality than the Kings and they should win this by 10 points.
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Johann Tromp, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Johan Greyling, 12 Burton Klaasen, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Ricky Schroeder (captain), 8 Christiaan De Bruin, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Vince Jobo, 5 Sebastian Ferreira, 4 Mthetheleli Fuzani, 3 Vukile Sofisa, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Justin Forwood.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Barend Potgieter, 18 Dylon Pieterse, 19 Luke van der Smit, 20 Brandon Brown, 21 Lungelo Goza, 22 Ganfried May.
Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Daniel du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Oliver Kebble, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Robert du Preez.
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Vusi Msibi
TMO: Christie du Preez
Sharks v Blue Bulls
(Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 18.10; 16.10 GMT)
In Durban, the Blue Bulls will attempt to register their third successive victory against the Sharks after winning their last Currie Cup encounter and the Qualifier earlier this season.
Interestingly, the home team has been the best-attacking team in the first three rounds with 16 tries and 120 points scored, while the Blue Bulls are hot on their heels with 15 tries and 114 points.
The Pretoria side, however, has leaked the most tries in the competition (15) so far, and will have to put their bodies on the line on defence on Saturday.
"We certainly had good moments against the Kings and scored some great tries," said Blue Bulls head coach Nollis Marais.
"But we were also very loose at times and allowed them to stay in the match much longer than they should.
"The Sharks have shown their class in the competition already and we will certainly not be allowed such leeway in Durban."
Marais was also pleased to see the progress of the side on the attack.
"We want to score tries, this is part of our strategy, so the 15 tries scored so far is right up there with the leading teams," he said.
"We have conceded 15 tries as well, the most in the competition and that is not something we can be proud of. So as much as we want to play ball in hand, we need to work harder when on defence."
Sharks head coach Robert du Preez says the Blue Bulls will provide his team with their sternest test so far in this year's campaign.
"The Blue Bulls are going to be our toughest game yet in the competition and they are dangerous all around the park," said Du Preez.
"We need to stick to our game-plan and execution, intention and attitude is key."
Prediction: The Sharks have looked good with ball in hand in this year's competition and they will give the Blue Bulls plenty of problems out wide. Expect the Sharks to win by at least 10 points.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Inny-Christian Radebe, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 JC Astle, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Sibusiso Sithole, 22 Rhyno Smith.
Blue Bulls: 15 Duncan Matthews, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 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 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Nic de Jager, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Ricus van der Hoven
TMO: Marius Jonker