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Currie Cup preview: Round Six

13th September 2012 15:59

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Jean Deysel Sharks v WP CC 2012

Sharks v WP: Top-of-the-table clash

Things are hotting up in the Currie Cup: After reaching the halfway stage last week, three sides share the top spot.

The biggest clash of this week's round takes place in Durban where two of those teams - the Sharks and Western Province - will do battle.

The Sharks are determined to return to their winning ways after going down to Griquas last week while WP want to avenge their narrow loss to John Plumtree's men in the corresponding fixture at Newlands in the tournament opener.

Once again this round's three matches will all be played on Saturday and the action kicks off in Kimberley where Griquas will be keen to repeat last week's giant-killing act against the Sharks when they take on the Blue Bulls.

Griquas will fancy their chances against Pine Pienaar's men, who are languishing at the bottom of the table.

The third team at the top of the standings, the Golden Lions, face the Free State Cheetahs, who are in fourth position, in Bloemfontein.

Currie Cup betting odds...

Fixtures:

Saturday, 15 September
Griquas v Blue Bulls
Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions
Sharks v Western Province

Standings:
1. Western Province 15
2. Golden Lions 15
3. Sharks 15
4. Free State Cheetahs 11
5. Griquas 10
6. Blue Bulls 8


Previews:

Griquas v Blue Bulls
GWK Park, Kimberley

Pote Human's men are on a high after impressing in their recent wins over the Golden Lions and Sharks in successive matches. This after their campaign got off to a dismal start with them losing their opening four fixtures.

That seems a distant memory for the home side's fans, who will genuinely feel that they can get add the Blue Bulls' scalp to their collection.

The hosts will rely heavily on their full-back Willie le Roux whose ability to turn defensive situations into attacking ones makes him one of the tournament's best players.

Le Roux will have extra motivation to do well in this match as he was yellow carded in the previous encounter between these sides which the Bulls won 35-20 in Pretoria earlier this year.

The visitors are in unfamiliar territory as the team propping up the table and their supporters expect them to get back to their winning ways after recent losses to the Lions and Western Province.

Coach Pine Pienaar must be feeling the heat and will be determined to turn things around.

The performance of the Bulls forwards could be the catalyst for them to return to victory trail. So much of their game-plan relies on their pack dominating their opposition and that is where they came short in their most recent defeats.

Prediction:The hosts will be brimming with confidence and don't be surprised if they claim their third win on the trot. Griquas to win by four points!

The teams:

Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Wesley Wilkins (c), 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Rynhardt Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Matt Dobson, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Richard Lawson.

Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Louis Fouchè, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Dewald Potgieter (c), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Cornell Hess, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè, 22 Jan Serfontein.

Kick-off:15:00 (14:00 BST, 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper


Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

After putting the Blue Bulls to the sword the Golden Lions will be determined to put in a repeat performance against the Cheetahs, who lost narrowly at home to Western Province last week.

But the defending champions' coach Johan Ackermann has warned his troops to forget about their win over the Bulls and focus on this weekend's match.

"The players know what happened on Saturday is gone and over," he said.

"The Cheetahs are a side we've got a lot of respect for - they are a well balanced side with a lot of good players."

The Lions have struggled against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in recent seasons. They have lost their last seven Currie Cup matches matches at the Free State Stadium with their last win being a 31-20 triumph way back in 2005.

The Cheetahs welcomed back Springbok flank Heinrich Brussouw against WP last week and his ball-winning ability is something which his side will rely heavily on.

Brussouw's dominance at the breakdowns combined with dangerous backs like captain and outside centre Robert Ebersohn, scrum-half Sarel Pretorius and young speedster Raymond Rhule make the home side a dangerous unit, especially when they get their counter-attacking game going.

Prediction:Both sides enjoy playing expansively so don't be surprised if this is another high-scoring game. The Cheetahs are always up to challenge when at home though and should just sneak in. Cheetahs by three points.

The teams:

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Tewis de Bruyn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Hendro Scholtz, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Marcell van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Sias Ebersohn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Rayno Benjamin.

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Willie Britz, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco Van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco Taute.

Kick-off:17:05 (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Sindile Mayende


Sharks v Western Province
Kings Park Stadium, Durban

Although this is a top-of-the-table clash Sharks coach John Plumtree knows that a defeat could see his team dropping out of the play-off places.

"There's really not much in this competition," Plumtree admitted.

"Everyone has lost two or three games and it's been difficult to predict results.

"The Lions lost to us, but then went and beat the Bulls, but the Bulls beat us. There's not much between all the teams really.

"There are three teams on top and so it's still anyone's game. You don't know who is going to make the play-offs, so it's almost like Super Rugby, which makes it interesting."

Plumtree believes Allister Coetzee's charges have become a better team since they last played them.

"I think they have progressed a lot since that first round, everyone has gone better since then but it's still tricky to pick the winners and the losers in this competition," he said.

"Province have their strengths, they have a big driving line-out and base much of their play around the drive. We probably base a lot of our play around our phase play."

After their recent resurgence WP will fancy their chances of taking the points in this clash.

Discarded Springbok utility back Gio Aplon is the experienced head in a young back-line which includes up-and-coming prospects like lively scrum-half Nic Groom and exciting centres Marcel Brache and JP du Plessis.

The men from the Cape did well to claim a 29-22 win, against the odds, in Bloemfontein last week. That away win was a boost for WP's youngsters who will now tackle their assignment in Durban with less trepidation.

Prediction: Western Province have been the form team in the tournament of late and although they are away from home, will fancy their chances of causing an upset against the Sharks. The hosts, however, seldom put in poor performances in successive weeks. It will be close but Sharks to win by two points!

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Brynard Stander, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 S'bura Sithole.

Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Tom Botha, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Joe Pietersen.

Kick-off:19:10 (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

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