The main curtainraiser to the Currie Cup Final is the Under-21 Final between the Blue Bulls and Western Province. It is probably a match that the Blue Bulls would expect to win.
Each side has beaten the other and on each occasion away this year. The Blue Bulls overpowered Western Province at Newlands, winning 35-23 with a dominating performance by Arno Botha. Then Western Province beat the Blue Bulls 34-29 at Loftus Versfeld when Botha did not play. Botha is back down in the Under-21 after playing Currie Cup rugby because the Blue Bulls are not in the Currie Cup Final.
Western Province are in the Currie Cup Final and in their squad of 22, there are six players qualified to start for the Under-21 side – a hole tight five plus a centre.
Four of the tight five will start for Western Province in the Currie Cup Final – Steven Kitshoff, Skarra Ntubeni and Frans Malherbe. Also starting is the startling giant Eben Etzebeth. In addition lock Willem van der Sluys, originally chose as the Western Province Under-21 captain, is on the bench.
The centre is the big newly promoted young player from Milnerton High, Damian De Allende.
Put those six in the WP Under-21 side and it is substantially stronger.
Apart from Botha, the Blue Bulls also have François Venter back in the centre.
Neither side had all its players for the Under-21 semifinals. The Blue Bulls, who had topped the Under-21 log, smashed the Free State Cheetahs 50-24 while Western Province needed a miracle try in injury time to beat the Sharks 19-18.
It would not be unreasonable to consider the powerful Blue Bulls as favourites.
Blue Bulls: Ulrich Beyers, Damian van Wyk, William Small-Smith, François Venter, Travis Ismaiel, Tian Schoeman, Lohan Jacobs, Arno Botha, Wiaan Liebenberg (captain), Shaun Adendorff, Marvin Orie, Mike Williams, Hencus van Wyk, Bongi Mbonambi, Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Basil Short, Victor Hechter, Jean Cook, Emile Temperman, Tony Jantjies, Christopher Bosch.
Western Province: Cheslin Kolbe, Dillyn Leyds, JP du Plessis, Kobus van Wyk, Pat Howard, Timothy Swiel, Ricky Schroeder (captain), Ryan Smid, JP Swanepoel, Joshua Katzen, Gerbrandt Grobler, Jan de Klerk, Oliver Kebble, Neil Rautenbach, François van Wyk
Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Kelvin de Bruyn, Jean Kleyn, Jody Reyneke, Golden Masimla, Clearance Khumalo, Dean Hammond.
Date: 27 October 2012
Venue: KINGS PARK, Durban
Expected weather conditions: 70% chance of rain with a high of 19°C, dropping to 15°C
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende, Stefan Breytenbach
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee
Assessor: Keith Hendricks