The SupeRugby has come and gone with South Africa having 3 teams in the top 6, 2 Semi-finalists and teh Sharks ending as runners up. Now however it is time for real South African rugby to start, no more boring Australian derbies to put us to sleep. The Currie Cup is here and it kicks off on Friday night with the Blue Bulls taking on Griquas at Loftus Versfeld. Saturday sees the Golden Lions hosting the Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park (Coca-Cola Park) and the Sharks traveling to Cape Town in order to face WP at Newlands. It might not be the star studded competition of the 80's or 90's, but this is where we see future stars being born.
Blue Bulls vs. Griquas (19:10 Kick-off, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
The Blue Bulls will look to start off their season with a win at home against the Griquas. Looking at the history between these two teams from 2006 this should not be a problem for them. The teams have met 12 times with the Blue Bulls walking away the victors on 10 occassions. Playing at Loftus Versfeld things look even bleaker for the men from Kimberley as they have not win a match there in the last 6 years. The winning margin on average is around 21 points between these two teams and at Loftus it is 25. Friday night might however not be one of those high scoring games as the weather in Pretoria is quite cold. Griquas are known for playing good running rugby andtheir forwards are always up for the challenge in the scrums. With the Blue Bulls showing this season that they are keen on running the ball this can be come a good display of attacking rugby. Defence will however be key. Only the Blue Bulsl team available at time of writing this. I do however give this to the Blue Bulls by minimum 15 points.Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Clayton Blommetjies, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn. Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Golden Lions vs Free State Cheetahs (17:05 kick-off, Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
The Golden Lions are in much the same position as they were last year at the start of the Currie Cup season. They finished last in SupeRugby and still there are talks of financial difficulty at the union. Add to this the fact that they have a care taker coach with no assistants to help him and you wont be faulted for giving this game to the Free State Cheetahs. Johann Ackerman, care taker coach, will have his work cutout for him this season. JC janse van Rensburg will take over the captaincy after Joshua Strauss resigned from the role. The Cheetahs are not much better off either, but they dont have all the external pressure on their shoulders. The Cheetahs won 8 of the last 13 games, but only two out of the last 6 at Ellis Park. The winning margin at Ellis Park is round about 10 points, but this doesn’t mean that the scores are not big. Expect to see both teams running the ball and going for tries, this is if weather allows. I’m going to stick my neck out and back the Lions to win this one by 8 points. The teams have not been finalised yet, but here is what I have:Lions: TBA
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Pieter van Zyl, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Waltie Vermeulen, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Western Province will want to win this game and win it good to avenge the SupeRugby semi-final loss they suffered a forthnight ago against the Sharks. Both teams however will see personel changes and it will definately not be the same teams that played in that semi-final facing each other. The Sharks will have some tired players after the excessive traveling the team has done over the last 4 weeks and this will play a big role. With rain around don’t expect to see many tries being scored but it will still be a good game to watch. Should the weather clear it will be even better. Both teams’ goal kickers will play a big role in this match and it might just come down to a single kick. I do however feel that WP will win this one by about 9 points.Western Province: 15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. JP du Plessis, 12. Marcel Brache, 11. Gio Aplon, 10. Burton Francis 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Jebb Sinclair, 7. Tyrone Holmes, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Don Armand, 3. Frans Malherbe 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Deon Carstens
Replacements: 16. Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17. Brok Harris, 18. JC Kritzinger, 19. Wilhelm van der
Sluys, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Gary van Aswegen, 22. Damian de Allende
Sharks: TBA Enjoy the rugby this weekend and snuggle up under a warm blanket while watching and may the best teams win. As always this is how I see it……………….
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