Top-two clash looms

2013-10-07 00:00

WESTERN Province and the Sharks sealed home semi-final berths with their weekend victories and their top-of-the-table decider clash at King’s Park this Saturday will potentially settle the venue for the Currie Cup final.

Province head the table by one point after scoring a bonus point fourth try — by Michael Rhodes — after the final hooter in beating the Golden Lions 36-23 at Newlands on Saturday.

The Sharks kicked six penalties in scrambling to an 18-16 win over the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night while Free State thumped Griquas 52-21 in Kimberley.

The Free Staters and the Golden Lions seem certain to fill third and fourth places — and advance to semi-finals either in Durban or Cape Town — with the Bulls making an early exit.

The Springboks will return to their Currie Cup squads this week, but the Sharks are certain to lose flank Willem Alberts, who was stretchered off the field at Ellis Park on Saturday evening.

Raymond Rhule scored four second-half tries on his return to the Free State Cheetahs side in their 52-21 win over Griquas. The Free Staters led 14-7 at the break, but dominated the second half as Griquas continued their recent poor form.

The bonus-point victory allowed the Cheetahs to move above the Lions into third position on the Currie Cup log with one game — against the Bulls — to play.

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson said he was delighted the players had held on to get the win over the Bulls.

“We have some momentum going into the WP game. The scrums were not great, but they improved as the game went on. The lineouts were good and so was the defence, so generally it was a good performance. It showed the character of the side that we had two yellow cards and still could grind out the win.”

Macleod-Henderson said that the high penalty count against them at scrum time was a worry “because it is an area where we work really hard in training”.

“We pride ourselves on discipline in general and on average we conceded 10 to 11 penalties per game. Against the Bulls we conceded 17 and we will certainly look at improving our discipline this week.”

He said he was not concerned about the lack of tries against the Bulls.

“The win was really important. We had a few linebreaks only for the Bulls to concede penalties in the danger zone rather than the tries. We are not worried about it.”

The Sharks should have Pat Lambie, the Bok front-row (the Du Plessis brothers and Beast Mtawarira), Pieter-Steph du Toit and Marcell Coetzee back this week, while Province will be able to call on Bok centres Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh along with Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi.

Saturday’s scorers

WP 36 - Tries: Damian de Allende, Deon Fourie, Gerhard van den Heever, Michael Rhodes; Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2); Penalties: Catrakilis (3), Kurt Coleman. Lions 23 - Tries: Derick Minnie (2); Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2); Penalties: Boshoff (3).

Griquas 21 - Tries: Dalton Davis, Rory Arnold, Jaco Nepgen; Conversions: Francois Brummer, Gouws Prinsloo (2).Cheetahs 52 - Tries: Schalk van der Merwe, Raymond Rhule (4), Piet van Zyl ; Conversions: Elgar Watts (2), Willie du Plessis (3) ; Penalties: Watts (4).

Played Friday: Blue Bulls 16 Sharks 18.

Next Saturday’s fixtures (home team first):

Lions vs Griquas, 3.00 pm

Free State vs Blue Bulls, 5.05 pm

Sharks vs WP, 7.10 pm.

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