Absa Currie Cup reaches the halfway mark

The Absa Currie Cup competition will reach the halfway stage this weekend triggering a new sense of urgency among the teams to register victories or risk languishing at the lower end of the log.

Only five points separate the first-placed Sharks and the fourth-placed MTN Golden Lions on the log table, while GWK Griquas and the Vodacom Blue Bulls trail by a further three points at the foot of the table.

This means a change of fortunes for any of the teams in the second half of the competition could result in a log reshuffle.

In Saturday’s matches GWK Griquas take on the MTN Golden Lions in Kimberley, the Vodacom Blue Bulls meet the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld and DHL Western Province battle it out with the Sharks in Cape Town.

GWK Griquas vs MTN Golden Lions

In Kimberley Griquas will be determined to take advantage of the dry hard field, which many visiting teams battle on, to bounce back from three consecutive defeats and sway their fortunes in the competition. This, however, will require a quality performance all around. The MTN Golden Lions have a strong pack and exciting backs, who have done well in the last few weeks to stretch the defence and score tries. Fortunately for Griquas, their defence has been solid, but their attack will have to improve immensely to register a victory. With the team’s lock crisis deepening last week due to the loss of Hilton Lobberts to a broken arm and Australian lock Rory Arnold being cited for a bite, coach Pote Human has drafted Pukke lock Victor Kruger into the starting team alongside Patrick O’Brien, while Despatch lock Dalton Davis will start on the bench. Given their inexperience at provincial level, the Lions are expected to target the lineouts to gain an edge. On a positive note, Griquas scrumhalf Marnus Hugo will also earn his 50th Currie Cup cap on Saturday. Lions coach Johan Ackermann made a few changes to his team which sees Lions Under-21 lock Ruan Venter make his Absa Currie Cup debut in the starting team, while Tian Meyer starts at scrumhalf alongside flyhalf Elton Jantjies. 

GWK Griquas: PJ Vermeulen; Richard Lawson, Jean Stemmet, Howard Mnisi, Rocco Jansen; Francois Brummer, Marnus Hugo; Carel Greeff, Burger Schoeman, Marnus Schoeman, Victor Kruger, Patrick O’Brien, Nick Schonert, Ryno Barnes ©, Steph Roberts. Replacements: Matthew Dobson, Brummer Badenhorst, Dalton Davis, RJ Liebenberg, Jacques Coetzee, Du Randt Gerber, JP Nel.

MTN Golden Lions: Marnitz Boshoff; Andries Coetzee, Robert De Bruyn, Dylan Des Fountain, Anthony Volmink; Elton Jantjies, Tian Meyer; Willie Britz, Derick Minnie (capt), Jaco Kriel; Franco van der Merwe, Ruan Venter; Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Willie Wepener, CJ van der Linde, JJ Breet, Warwick Tecklenberg, Ross Cronje, Deon Helberg, Ruhan Nel.

Referee: Jason Jaftha

Assistant Referees: Lusanda Jam and Nico Smal

TMO: Johan Greeff with JJ Wagner in training

 
 

 
 

Vodacom Blue Bulls vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs

The Vodacom Blue Bulls will enter their clash under immense pressure following a slow start to the season, and with the Toyota Free State Cheetahs high on confidence after their convincing 40-20 victory against Griquas last week, the home team will be preparing themselves for a massive battle. One of the big focus points for the Blue Bulls will undoubtedly be to convert their try-scoring chances after showing flair on attack last week against the Sharks, but battling to breach the defence. The team will have to use their possession wisely or they could risk defending for a large part of the game as the Cheetahs have been strong while stringing together phases with their big forwards. While the Cheetahs have named an unchanged team, Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar made three changes to his starting 15. Prop Marcel van der Merwe will start against his former team in place of the injured Mornē Mellett, while fit-again centre Francois Venter starts in place of Ulrich Beyers and Jacques Engelbrecht earns his first start. Interestingly, Free State prop Rossouw de Klerk will also be packing down against his former Blue Bulls team mates.

The clash will mark a significant milestone in veteran wing Akona Ndungane’s career as he will earn his 50th Absa Currie Cup cap.

 
 

Vodacom Blue Bulls: Jürgen Visser; Sampie Mastriet, Waylon Murray, Francois Venter, Akona Ndungane, Handré Pollard, Ruan Snyman; Jono Ross (capt), Jacques Engelbrecht, Wiaan Liebenberg; Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse; Frik Kirsten, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, Jacques du Plessis, Rudy Paige, Ulrich Beyers, Clayton Blommetjies.

Toyota Free State Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller; Riaan Smit, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule; Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius; Philip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo (capt); Lood de Jager, Teboho Mohoje; Rossouw de Klerk, Hercu Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Wian du Preez, Waltie Vermeulen, Davon Raubenheimer, Kevin Luiters, Willie du Plessis, Piet Lindeque.

 
 

Referee: Stuart Berry

Assistant Referees: Marius Jonker and Cobus Wessels

TMO: Tappe Henning with Willem Vos in training

 
 

 
 

DHL Western Province vs The Sharks

The clash in Cape Town is expected to be epic as rivals DHL Western Province and The Sharks go head-to-head. Both teams have been impressive on attack in the first few weeks of the tournament, which could set the scene for a spectacle. With veteran Sharks flyhalf Butch James earning his 50th Currie Cup cap, the player will certainly look to make his presence felt against young Western Province flyhalf Kurt Coleman after being handed a starting berth. The battle up front will also be tight as both teams boast strong forward packs. There were a few rotational switches in the Sharks camp with props Rayno Gerber and Danie Mienie earning starts, while exciting centre Tim Whitehead returns to the starting team in place of Heimar Williams. In the Western Province camp, there was only one change to the starting team that drew against the Lions, with Louis Schreuder taking over from Nic Groom at scrumhalf.

DHL Western Province: Gio Aplon; Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Kurt Coleman, Louis Schreuder; Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie (capt); De Kock Steenkamp, Michael Rhodes; Pat Cilliers, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Brok Harris, Gerbrandt Grobler, Rohan Kitshoff, Nic Groom, Gary van Aswegen, Michael van der Spuy.

The Sharks: SP Marais; Sizo Maseko, Louis Ludik, Tim Whitehead, Lwazi Mvovo; Butch James, Cobus Reinach; Jacques Botes (capt), Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel; Marco Wentzel, Peet Marais; Rayno Gerber, Craig Burden, Danie Mienie. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Edwin Hewitt, Justin Downey, Charl McLeod, Fred Zeilinga, Jaco van Tonder.

 
 

Referee: Craig Joubert

Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen and Marc van Zyl

TMO: Deon van Blommestein

 
 

Absa Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:

 
 

GWK Griquas vs MTN Golden Lions

Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley

Time: 15h00

Date: 7 September 2013

 
 

Vodacom Blue Bulls vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs

Venue: Loftus Versfeld

Time: 17h05

Date: 7 September 2013

 
 

DHL Western Province vs The Sharks

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Time: 19h10

Date: 7 September 2013

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About Dave

I totally love sport. Rugby, cricket and soccer, but my first love will always be rugby. Other than sport I write my own poems and other interestings articles. I also love cooking. A man of many talents. When it come to Cricket I'm a Cape Cobras, Kolkata Knight Riders and Proteas supporter. Soccer there is only one team and that is Man United and Germany internationally. Other than that I'm a loving father and husband.

Posted on September 5, 2013, in Currie Cup Rugby. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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