Planet Rugby

Preview: Currie Cup, Round Four

29th August 2014 08:52

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Kobus van Wyk for Western Province

Going well: Province

Several teams will be looking for revenge on Saturday as they face the same adversaries which beat them just two weeks ago in the Currie Cup.

Western Province are still setting the pace at the top of the table but the defending champions, the Sharks - who face the Pumas on Friday - are just a point adrift of the men from the Cape in the standings.

WP, who along with the Sharks are the two unbeaten teams in the competition, head to Pretoria for their return fixture with the Blue Bulls.

Elsewhere Griquas host close neighbours the Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley in the early game of the round, and in Port Elizabeth, tournament newbies the Eastern Province Kings face the Golden Lions.

Fixtures:

Saturday, 30 August- Kick-off: Local (GMT)
Griquas v Free State Cheetahs - 15h00 (13h00)
Blue Bulls v Western Province - 17h05 (15h05)
Eastern Province Kings v Golden Lions - 19h10 (17h10)

Standings:
1. Western Province 14
2. Sharks 13
3. Golden Lions 10
4. Pumas 9
5. Free State Cheetahs 7
6. Blue Bulls 4
7. Griquas 3
8. Eastern Province Kings 1


Previews:

Griquas v Free State Cheetahs
GWK Park, Kimberley

Several of the players in these two sides were part of the Cheetahs' Super Rugby squad just a couple of months ago. Friendships forged during that tournament will, however, be put aside as they go in search of victory.

Two weeks ago, the Free State Cheetahs got their campaign on track thanks to a 34-27 victory in a high-paced derby in the corresponding fixture in Bloemfontein.

Griquas get a chance to turn the tables in their own backyard. They are yet to win a game this year and despite losing to the Pumas last weekend they go into this encounter with an unchanged side.

Griquas coach Hawies Fourie - who was also the Cheetahs' back-line coach during Super Rugby - emphasised the importance of this fixture.

"We want to progress to the knockout stages and not just play well to make sure we don't play in next year's qualifiers," he said.

"If we are to keep that dream alive we need to beat the Cheetahs.

"This week we looked at our lineouts, something that was very poor against the Pumas. The Cheetahs have a good lineout and use it as an attacking platform. We have to be mindful of that."

The Cheetahs were unlucky to lose against the Sharks last weekend, as they held the lead in that clash for large periods.

Their coach Rory Duncan has kept faith with the team that did duty against the champions. He expects an improved result this weekend but knows his charges will have to work hard against their neighbours.

"We made some mistakes against the Sharks - it is a sign of a new team - but we need to rectify those against Griquas," said Duncan.

"They are going to be a hard nut to crack at home," Duncan said.

Prediction: As visitors last weekend, the Cheetahs came agonisingly close to beating the Sharks. They will not suffer the same fate twice. Cheetahs to win by seven points!

The teams:

Griquas: 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Wayne Stevens (captain), 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Ruaan Lerm, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Janro Van Niekerk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Abraham Griesel, 21 Gideon la Grange, 22 Rocco Jansen.

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

Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper, Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner


Blue Bulls v Western Province
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria

The tournament's two most successful unions head into this clash with at opposite ends of the table.

WP have delivered several superb performances - including their 41-17 triumph over the Bulls in Cape Town in Round Two - and are in pole position in the standings while their hosts only climbed off the foot of the ladder thanks to a narrow win over the EP Kings last weekend.

The home side know they face an uphill battle against the form team in the competition but their coach Frans Ludeke is confident that the Blue Bulls could continue their winning form at Loftus Versfeld.

"No doubt that WP is playing very well and outplayed us in Cape Town a couple of weeks back, but we have turned the corner since then, I believe," he said.

"We will be up against it, but there is no reason why we cannot be very competitive," Ludeke said.

"We have an experienced pack that will hold their own and the new faces in the backs are all full of attacking potential."

WP have played an enterprising brand of rugby this season and have reaped the rewards. They have complimented the experience of international players like captain Juan de Jongh, Pat Cilliers and Manuel Carizza with exciting youngsters like Seabelo Senatla, Stephan Coetzee and Cheslin Kolbe.

This makes them a dangerous attacking unit but they have not neglected their defensive skills as illustrated in their win over the Golden Lions in Cape Town in the previous round.

Despite their fine start, and previous win over the Bulls, their coach Allister Coetzee is not underestimating their opponents and is planning to make full use of his entire matchday squad.

"We're playing at altitude this week and that can be quite testing," he said.

"It will be good to call on reserves that you can rely on for impact later in the match," he said.

"When you're playing the Bulls at Loftus, you need the efforts of all in a 22-man squad so that you are giving yourself a good chance of winning the game.

"We have some great impact players like Ruan Botha and Rynhardt Elstadt on the bench this week."

Prediction: Despite last weekend's win the Blue Bulls will battle in their own backyard. WP to win by 12 points!

The teams:

Blue Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Jacques Louis Potgieter/Joshua Stander, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (k), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Ryan Nell.

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (capt), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Pat Howard.

Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Cobus Wessels
Television match official: Willie Vos
Assessor: Willie Roos


Eastern Province Kings v Golden Lions
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

The Kings came agonisingly close to beating the Blue Bulls last weekend which will give them some confidence ahead of this clash with the Lions.

They will, however, also remember that the Lions secured a comprehensive 60-19 win - scoring nine tries in the process - when these sides met in Johannesburg two weeks ago.

Despite that result and although they have suffered three straight defeats, Kings coach Carlos Spencer is pleased with the positive signs shown against the Bulls last week.

"I believe we can turn things around, although we know we are in for another tough challenge," he said.

"But there were some positive signs from the game against the Bulls and we need to carry that into this week.

"There were improvements, but we know we need to raise the bar another few notches."

The Kings suffered a setback earlier this week when regular captain and number eight Luke Watson was ruled out for a month due to concussion sustained against the Bulls.

However, they have a good replacement in Aidon Davis who was one of the Baby Boks' best performers during their run to the final at the U20 Junior World Championship in New Zealand earlier this year.

The Lions suffered their first defeat of the season when they lost to Western Province in Cape Town last weekend. Their coach Johan Ackermann believes they were not accurate enough against WP, while lapses in defence kept his side out of that match.

He aims to rectify those mistakes this weekend. The Johannesburg-based side have been battling at fly-half and Andries Coetzee will become their fourth number 10 when he starts against the Kings.

Ackermann admitted that the situation is not ideal but is confident they can do better in Port Elizabeth.

"It is disruptive when you have a specialist number 10 pulling out then you have to change your plans but, hopefully, we are better prepared this week."

The Johannesburg-based side had expected to welcome back inspirational captain Warren Whiteley from travelling to Argentina with the Springbok squad, but he has since been recalled by Heyneke Meyer in place of Willem Alberts.

Prediction: The Lions should have too much firepower for their hosts. Lions to win by 10 points!

The teams:

EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke/Siyanda Grey, 13 Tim Whitehead/Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 BG Uys
Replacements: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Charles Marais,18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Siyanda Grey/Dwayne Jenner, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.

Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Andries Coetzee, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ricky Schroeder, 22 Howard Mnisi.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Francois Pretorius, Lusanda Jam
TMO: Jason Jaftha

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