Preview: Currie Cup, Round Five

Date published: September 5 2014

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The Currie Cup reaches it's halfway stage this weekend and there is still plenty at stake for the various teams in the competition.

The Currie Cup reaches it's halfway stage this weekend and there is still plenty at stake for the various teams in the competition.

Western Province are the only unbeaten side and are sitting pretty at the top of the standings and the chasing pack will be keen to stay in touch with the Cape Town-based outfit.

Saturday's action kicks off in Bloemfontein where the Free State Cheetahs host the high-riding Pumas in Bloemfontein. The visitors are the tournament's surprise package and take some beating which means the Cheetahs can't afford to take them lightly.

Elsewhere, the Sharks face Griquas in Durban while the weekend's marquee match-up sees the Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions doing battle in Pretoria.

Saturday, 06 September– Kick-off: Local (GMT)
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas – 15h00 (13h00)
Sharks v Griquas – 17h05 (15h05)
Blue Bulls v Golden Lions – 19h10 (17h10)

Standings:
1. Western Province 18
2. Golden Lions 15
3. Pumas 14
4. Sharks 13
5. Free State Cheetahs 12
6. Blue Bulls 5
7. Griquas 3
8. Eastern Province Kings 1


Previews:

Free State Cheetahs v Pumas
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Both these sides head into this match full of confidence after registering important victories last weekend.

The Pumas beat the Sharks 32-22 in Nelspruit in their previous fixture and are in third place on the Currie Cup table with three victories from four matches.

The Cheetahs are in fifth place in the standings and head into this clash full of confidence after securing a try-scoring bonus point in their 36-25 win over Griquas in Round Four.

In the opening round of the competition, the Pumas claimed a 28-21 victory over the Cheetahs but are yet to win away from home as all three victories were in Mbombela.

Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan believes neutralising the visitors' loose trio of Renaldo Bothma, Uzair Cassiem and captain Corne Steenkamp could help his team secure victory.

Number eight Jean Cook spearheads a back row which also includes young flankers Neill Claassen and Tienie Burger.

“We have spoken about the fire power of the Pumas with regards to their loose forwards,” said Duncan.

“Guys like Tienie and Neill have really come to the party, while we all know the wealth of experience a guy like Jean Cook adds.”

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has named the same starting line-up that beat the Sharks last weekend but made a change to his bench.

Hennie Skorbinski has been drafted into the matchday 22 as centre cover for JW Jonker and Stefan Watermeyer, who had formed an effective midfield combination so far this season.

“Hennie comes in for Coenie van Wyk because we had some trouble with our centres on the injury front,” said Pumas assistant coach MJ Mentz.

“We just wanted to have a centre on the bench as backup.”

Watermeyer was in superb form against the Sharks winning the man-of-the-match award and his direct running style proved a handful for the champions.

Prediction: The Cheetahs seldom play poorly in Bloemfontein and should have too much firepower for their visitors. Cheetahs to win by six points!

The teams:

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Phillipus du Plessis, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Henco Venter, 3 Rudolph Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Kevin Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Abraham le Roux, 17 George Marich, 18 Werner Lourens, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Joubert Engelbrecht.

Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Dylon Frylinck, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Corne Steenkamp (c), 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 DeJay Terblanche, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 JC Roos, 22 Hennie Skorbinski.

Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Gerrie de Bruin, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner


Sharks v Griquas
Kings Park Stadium, Durban

The Sharks will be keen to return to their winning ways when they host Griquas in Durban on Saturday.

The champions' winning streak came to an end when they lost to the Pumas in Durban last weekend but, despite playing at their home venue, will not underestimate their opponents who are yet to win a game this season.

Last season, Griquas caused a major upset when they beat the Sharks 32-30 at Kings Park and Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt admitted their opponents, currently seventh on the table, would arrive with plenty of optimism.

“The Sharks don't have the greatest record against Griquas,” he said.

“We lost at home to them last year, but we rectified that when we played them away and beat them earlier this season.

“They always get their tails up when they play us and they'll see an opportunity to put one over us again.”

Everitt believes the champions need to go back to the basics and focus on themselves, rather than their opponents.

“For us, we just have to make sure we do things right,” he added.

“It's about concentrating on what we need to do to get better. We're not going to worry too much about the opposition.

“We don't feel we're that far off. There are quite a few guys here that are either in their first or second year of the Currie Cup. The more they play, the better they'll get.

“It's up to them to step up and show they're worthy of a place in Super Rugby next year.”

Despite losing all their previous games, Griquas are a dangerous side with experienced players like captain Francois Brummer, former Springbok Hilton Lobberts and Steph Roberts in their ranks.

Their coach Hawies Fourie is well aware of the importance of a result in Durban.

“We need to beat the Sharks, not to reach the knockout stages, but to be in a position later where we are sure of our spot in next year's competition,” he said.

Prediction: The home side shouldn't have too much problems and Griquas' winless streak will continue. Sharks to win by 10 points!

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Jaco van Tonder, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Marco Wentzel, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Tim Swiel.

Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Gideon la Grange, 11 Petrus Vermeulen, 10 Francois

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