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Thu 23 Aug 2012 | 10:59

Preview: Currie Cup, Round Three

Preview: Currie Cup, Round Three
Thu 23 Aug 2012 | 10:59

Preview: Currie Cup, Round Three


The defending Currie Cup champions, the Golden Lions, continue to attract a disproportionate share of the spotlight … for all the wrong reasons.

The distractions of having been stripped of their Super Rugby status and losing a major arbitration case is not a recipe for success.

However, Lions coach Johan Ackermann is adamant that his team will be able to put the boardroom drama aside as Round Three of the country's premier domestic competitions arrives.

"We've got a job at hand and that is to play against Western Province," he said of his team's match in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Ackermann had even suggested to his charges that anyone not able to focus on Saturday's showdown should put his hand up and step aside.

"I keep on telling them that if you worry about the future you're not going to perform," he said.

The Round Three action gets underway on Saturday with a Central Unions derby between Griquas and the Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley.

Then it is the turn of the Lions and Province, before the table-topping Sharks head to Pretoria to face the Blue Bulls.

Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouché tops the Currie Cup points-scoring standings with 33 points – three conversions and nine penalties. Behind Fouché in second place is the Cheetahs' Riaan Smit on 29, with the Lions' Butch James third on 25.

Bulls loose forward CJ Stander, Sharks hooker Craig Burden and Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule lead the try-scoring stakes with two touchdowns apiece.

Jan de Koning looks at all the Round Three action!

Saturday, August 26

Griquas v Free State Cheetahs
(GWK Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 15.00; 13.00 GMT)

Griquas coach Pote Human, before the start of the season, suggested Kimberley will be a fortress this season.

However, Griquas find themselves at the bottom of the table without a win.

They will be confronted by a Cheetahs team fresh from their impressive demolition of the Bulls last week.

The Cheetahs, despite being in fifth on the standings in a very tight race, will be brimming with confidence – not only because of their win over the Bulls, but also as a result of the return of ace flyhalf Johan Goosen following a lengthy injury-enforced lay-off.

Griquas coach Pote Human admitted that his team will require a substantial lift in their standards if their are to end their victory drought.

"I just feel our handling wasn't very secure against WP," he said of last week's heartbreaking (20-25) loss in Kimberley in a game in which they dominated the first half, before slipping off the pace.

"We did not finish off the opportunities when we should have," the Griquas mentor said.

He also spoke of retaining possession under pressure, rather than throwing 50-50 passes.

He is confident that his team will be able to match the formidable Cheetahs pack in the set pieces.

"We are working hard on that aspect," Human told this website, adding: "[Lock] Martin Muller plays a major role.

"He is a good player and I rate him very highly as a line-out specialist … one of the best in South Africa.

"We also put a lot of work into our scrums – at this stage our set pieces are very good."

The game itself is seen as Super Rugby trial between the two franchise partners and nowhere will it be more evident than in the backline – especially at fullback.

The fleet-footed Willie le Roux, who featured on the wing for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, will go head-to-head with Free State No.15 Hennie Daniller, a man with a siege-gun boot.

It is two contrasting styles – Le Roux a fine exponent of the expansive game and Daniller the more composed, controlled player. But it remains an intriguing battle worth the entry fee.

Results this season:
Free State Cheetahs 32-18 Blue Bulls
Griquas 20-25 Western Province
Blue Bulls 35-20 Griquas
Golden Lions 43-20 Free State Cheetahs

Prediction: Kimberley remains a tough town to visit for Rugby Teams. Western Province may have escaped with a win last week, but the game was in the balance right to the end. It will be that close again, with one score separating the teams in the end. The Free State Cheetahs seems to have the more settled team and should sneak a win – by less than 10 points.


Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Wesley Wilkins, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Janro van Niekerk, 18 Ivann Espag, 19 Frikkie Spies, 20 Chase Minnaar, 21 Marnus Hugo, 22 Marnitz Boshoff.

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13  Robert Ebersohn (captain), 12 Barry Geel, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lucas Floors, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Nico Scheepers.

Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistants: Sindile Mayende, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Golden Lions v Western Province
(Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)

You simply can't look past the obvious – one team is under siege in the boardrooms and the other seems to be a content, happy bunch.

However, adversity can also play a major role in invigorating players. The Lions believe they can remain competitive on the field.

To add spice to an already intriguing clash is the fact that the second-placed Lions are at home to third-placed Province, with only points difference separating them.

Both teams have been bolstered by the return of some Springboks – hooker Bandise Maku, back from injury, and discarded flyhalf Elton Jantjies join the Lions, while Bok discards Siya Kolisi and Juan de Jongh are starting for WP.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann pointed to the influence of those returning internationals is key to the outcome of the game.

"It is a cliche, but there simply is no easy game in the Currie Cup," Ackermann told this website.

"WP would have gained a lot of confidence from last week's game … to win [against Griquas] in Kimberley is never easy.

"On top of that they get [Springboks] Siya Kolisi and Juan de Jongh back, which will be a considerable boost for their team.

"There is no doubt we will have to be at our best."

However, the back-patting was returned by Province coach Allister Coetzee.

"It's never easy in Johannesburg, we know that, and we're aware of what's coming," Coetzee said, adding: "But we need to keep our errors down and look after the ball – it's one area you really have to be sharp in [against the Lions].

"The Lions are the one team with a near Super Rugby side and they are, after all, the Currie Cup champions."

Lions captain JC Janse van Rensburg felt the set pieces hold the key to the outcome of this game.

"I see a lot is said about the scrums, but we are focussing on our own game," he said in reference to WP's stated intention of become a dominant pack.

"The set pieces are key," Janse van Rensburg said, adding: "From there we launch our phase play to get go-forward ball and then get into our structures."

He admitted the WP pack poses a major threat.

"Every week is a new challenge.

"WP do have two very good young props [Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff] and it will be an exciting challenge for us.

"However, as I said, our focus is on ourselves."

Results this season:
Sharks 30-14 Golden Lions
Griquas 20-25 Western Province
Golden Lions 43-20 Free State Cheetahs
Western Province 23-25 Sharks

Prediction: Logic says the Golden Lions can't win this – there have simply been too many sideshows and distractions. But this Lions team showed in Week One just how dangerous they can be. Last week's slip may well be one of those anomalies of the season and they may well bounce back on home soil. The Lions to win by about 10 points.

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruan Combrinck.

Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 JP du Plessis, 22 Kurt Coleman.

Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistants: Ben Crouse, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff

Blue Bulls v Sharks
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)

The Sharks – despite losing 15 players to the national team, through injury and some who moved abroad – managed to maintain the momentum they have build up in the latter stage of the Super Rugby season.

And despite a severely depleted squad they are the only unbeaten team after the first two rounds of the competition.

The Sharks, despite being disrupted by the loss of hooker Craig Burden, who has become a Springbok after being called up to tour with the national team in Argentina, will go to Loftus full of confidence that they can register the third consecutive win of their campaign. The side currently have eight log points from their two victories over Western Province and defending champions the Golden Lions.

Bulls coach Pine Pienaar was happy to accept the underdog tag for this outing.

"The Sharks are log leaders and undefeated, need I say more about the challenge we have," Pienaar said.
"We were not at our best last week [an 18-32 loss to the Cheetahs] in Bloemfontein and have no option to recover and rebound from that if we want to beat the Sharks," the coach said.

"We have some players back and that will make a difference in the way we play," he said.
Although the Sharks have not managed a four-try bonus point this season, they have touched down six times – suggesting they are keen to employ more expansive game.

"It would be nice to get bonus points every time you play, but the weather in Cape Town wasn't conducive to a bonus point and we still scored three in that match," Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said of their Round One outing.

"Against the Lions [last week], we had opportunities to get our bonus point, but if you don't convert possession into pressure and pressure into points, and you keep turning ball over, it becomes difficult.

"You need to be accurate with the opportunities you get or you put yourself under pressure."

These two teams provide the bulk of the Boks squad in Argentina, 18 of the 26 players on tour, but they have enough depth to cope with the drain on their player resources.

"One thing about playing the Blue Bulls is that these sides tend to bring out the best in each other and we are both affected by Springbok selections," Bashford said.

"It's always a physical onslaught between us and I think we can expect the same on the weekend.

"They will be hurting after their loss to the Cheetahs [last week] and they will bank on Loftus being a fortress, so they will be desperate to win this one at home."

Bashford said there are many things they need to get right on the day.

"They will be desperate and will be looking to knock us over."

Results this season:
Free State Cheetahs 32-18 Blue Bulls
Sharks 30-14 Golden Lions
Blue Bulls 35-20 Griquas
Western Province 23-25 Sharks

Prediction: This is the toughest game of the weekend to call – the home team is desperate to get their campaign back on track, while the visitors are on a high. If the Sharks do have a potential weakness, it is in the scrums. But then the Bulls have not been that dominant in the set pieces either. The head-to-head between the two sets of loose forwards will also be worth the entry fee. The Bulls are likely to bounce back from last week's disappointment and will sneak a win – five points or less.

Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Clayton Blommetjies, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Rudi Paige, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Ulrich Beyers.

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Marius Joubert, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Jacques Botes, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Lubabalo Mtembu, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Gouws Prinsloo.

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistants: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cobus Wessels
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee

PV: 2
Preview: Currie Cup, Round Three | Rugby365