Preview: Golden Lions v Western Province

Date published: September 8 2016

There will be plenty at stake for both sides when the Golden Lions host Western Province in Johannesburg on Friday.

These teams have contested the last two Currie Cup Finals with the Lions winning last year's competition and Western Province being crowned champions in 2014.

Things have been very different in 2016, however, as both teams haven't been as dominant as previous years. 

The Lions finished last year without losing a game, on their way to lifting the trophy, while Western Province proved worthy finalists after an impressive run to the final. 

The champions started their 2016 campaign in style when they beat the Pumas 68-26 but then suffered a shock 30-24 loss to the Griquas in their next match. 

Johan Ackermann's charges bounced back with another big win over Boland (60-12) but suffered another setback when they lost to the Blue Bulls (31-17) last weekend.

The men from the Cape made a poor start to this year's tournament but, after losing their first two matches to the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs, bounced back with victories against the Eastern Province Kings and the Sharks in recent weeks.

That latter result was particularly impressive – and crucial – as it ended the Sharks' winning run in the competition and brought WP back in to contention for the play-offs.

These teams' indifferent form could be attributed to the fact that they have provided the bulk of the players to the Springboks' squad for this year's Rugby Championship.

Seven of the players currently in Springbok coach Allister Coetzee's 28-man squad for the two away matches against Australia and New Zealand are Lions while six are from Western Province.

But despite the absence of those Springboks, both sides still have several quality players in their ranks. In the Lions line-up, Rohan Janse van Rensburg was one of the stars during the recent Super Rugby tournament while Andries Coetzee is another exciting and underrated back-line player. 

Also keep an eye on young forwards like Ruan Ackermann and Lourens Erasmus, who have played with a maturity beyond their years this season. 

Meanwhile, WP will rely on Sevens Springboks Cheslin Kolbe and Werner Kok to take the attack to the Lions, from the back, while Rynhardt Elstadt and former Lions stalwart JC Janse van Rensburg are expected to lead the charge up front.

Last time these teams met: Western Province claimed a narrow 27-24 victory during the Currie Cup Qualifying Competition fixture at Newlands on April 30. A late Grant Hermanus penalty secured the win for Province after the Lions fought back from a 17-3 half-time deficit.

Prediction: Like their previous meeting, this will be a tight battle but home ground advantage will be crucial so the Golden Lions will win by five points!

The teams:

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Selom Gavor, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Antony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronje (c), 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 JP du Preez, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Cyle Brink, 20 Ruaan Lerm / Stef de Wit, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Howard Mnisi

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Werner Kok, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jacques Vermeulen, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Scott van Breda

Date: Friday, September 9
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19:00 (17:00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper 
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden, Eduan Nel
TMO: Johan Greeff