The Currie Cup chase is now truly on in both Currie Cup divisions

The Currie Cup chase is now truly on in both Currie Cup divisions

The trials and tribulations of being a Currie Cup Premier Division coach will be highlighted in dramatic fashion this weekend in Round 6 of the competition - sponsored by Direct Axis Financial Services – as the teams take a step closer to knowing their fortunes in the penultimate pool round.

The action will be spread over the weekend with Griquas facing Western Province in Kimberley on Friday, the Pumas hosting Free State Cheetahs in Nelspruit on Saturday, and the Golden Lions taking on the Sharks in Johannesburg on Sunday.

These results will also undoubtedly extend the agony of the Blue Bulls, who will have to watch how things play out for their season while they have a bye.

In the Currie Cup First Division it will be a dramatic – and for some distressing – weekend with the results set to deliver joy for four teams and despair for the rest.

The weekend is significant for two reasons. The final four teams on the log will be confirmed and with that a place in the semi-finals next weekend.

The top South African side on the log will also qualify to play in the Promotion/Relegation match, against the last-placed Currie Cup Premier Division side - should they decide to do so – in three weeks’ time.

Every point crucial in Premier Division

Things could not be closer at the top of the Currie Cup Premier Division table, with the Golden Lions and Griquas not only sharing first place with 15 points, but also boasting the same points’ difference (0).

State Cheetahs (+61) currently have a better points’ difference than Western Province (+39).

The Blue Bulls (9) have a bye this weekend and could be bumped into the wooden spoon position by Pumas (8), should the latter earn a valuable win at home.

Griquas vs WP

Friday night’s clash, between Griquas and Western Province in Kimberley, is expected to set the tone for the weekend.

Griquas had a bye last weekend and will be ready for the Cape onslaught. Coach Brent Janse van Rensburg rewarded the squad that subdued the Blue Bulls two weeks ago, making only one tactical change, with veteran Zandre Jordaan coming in at flank as the men from Kimberley look to impose themselves at the breakdown.

Western Province coach John Dobson, meanwhile, was forced into making four changes due to Springbok call-ups.

Chad Solomon replaces Scarra Ntubeni, Ernst van Rhyn comes in for Siya Kolisi, Dillyn Leyds is replaced by SP Marais and Wilco Louw by Carlu Sadie. Hooker Schalk Erasmus is set to make his WP debut from the bench, with lock David Meihuizen and scrumhalf Paul de Wet also coming into the match 23, as well as Damian Willemse who returns from injury.

Pumas vs Free State Cheetahs

Saturday’s clash in Nelspruit will be equally telling. The Mbombela Stadium was good to the Pumas last time around and they will feel confident in their abilities to beat anyone coming to the Lowveld.

The Free State Cheetahs, on the other hand, had a dip in results after winning their opening three matches, and will be determine to stop sliding, but they will be wary of the fact that they cannot give the home side any opportunities to get their power game going.

Pumas coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, named Luther Obi on the wing and re-jigged his loose trio from last weekend. Obi started the season with the Isuzu Southern Kings, but he now runs free in the Lowveld and could be a factor against his old team-mates. Carel du Preez comes into the loose trio and Jeandre Rudolph moves to the openside, while Willie Engelbrecht will start at the back of the scrum.

Former Sharks prop, Ngonidzashe Chidoma, will play off the bench.

To Play programme after suffering concussion, although Jacobie Adriaanse and Cyle Brink are likely to be declared fit.

Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:

Friday, 16 August

Griquas v Western Province
Venue: Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 19:15
Referee: Rasta Rashivenge
TMO: Pro Legoete

Griquas - 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zac Burger, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Zandre Jordaan, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Weshuizen, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona. Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Johan Momsen, 19 Gideon van der Merwe, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Chris Smit, 22, Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Western Province - 15 SP Marais, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Edwill van der Merwe.

Saturday 17 August
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 14:00
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Christie du Preez

Pumas - 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Henko Marais, 11. Luther Obi, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Ashlon Davids, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Carel du Preez, 6 Jeandre Rudolph, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel. Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblance, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ginter Smits, 21 Jaco Marais, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell, 23 Ngonidzashe Chidoma.
Free State Cheetahs - 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Tian Meyer (captain), 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Sitnu Manjesi, 20 Abongile Nonkontwana, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dian Badenhorst, 23 Tapiwa Mafura

Sunday, 18 August

Golden Lions v Sharks

Venue: Emirates Airline
Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 14h00
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen.
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Teams

Golden Lions (TBC)
Sharks - 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (co-captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-captain), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola. Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 Leolin Zas

First Division set for dramatic closing pool round

A dramatic – and for some distressing – weekend awaits the eight teams in the Currie Cup First Division as the final round of pool matches is set to deliver joy for four teams and despair for the rest.

The Jaquares XV have already clinched top spot on the standings and will host one of next weekend's semi-finals at the Fanie du Toit Sports Fields in Potchefstroom.

The three remaining play-off places, however, will guarantee a tightly contested round this weekend.

All of the Griffons, Valke, EP Elephants and Leopards are still in the running to host the other semi-final, while the Boland Cavaliers and SWD Eagles could sneak into fourth spot if results go their way.

The Welkom side are best placed with 22 log points, but they travel down to the West Coast, where the Boland Cavaliers will take them on at Saldanha Stadium in Saldanha Bay.

The home side, on 12 log points, have a remote chance of sneaking into fourth place, provided that the EP Elephants and Leopards both lose without a bonus point, while SWD also have to suffer a defeat, so they will be desperate to not only thrill their home fans in what could be their last match of the year at home, but also keep alive their slim hopes.

They will know on Friday evening already if there will be anything to play for when the Leopards take on the Jaguares XV in Potchefstroom. If the Leopards earn a win or secure two bonus points, it will be tickets for Boland and defending champions, the SWD Eagles.

The Eagles have a trip to East London, where the Border Bulldogs await on Saturday. The home side is the only one not to have won a match in the competition, meaning they will have all the motivation they need to create an upset at Police Park.

For SWD, the same applies as with Boland. They really need lady luck to smile at them with the other results, while they have to win away from home to extend their season and have a shot at defending their title.

The Valke, despite last weekend's drubbing at the hands of the South Americans, remain in the race. They need just one point from the match, although a win will secure their top four status.

They travel down to Despatch where the EP Elephants will run out also knowing exactly what they need to do to make it into the top four.

A win for EP will be enough. However, should the Leopards surprise in Potch and either Boland or SWD pull a rabbit out of the hat, a bonus point might be necessary.

All this will make for a highly entertaining match as both sides will be keen to score four tries for a bonus point.

Currie Cup First Division Fixtures

Friday, 16 August 2019

Jaguares XV v Leopards

Venue: Fanie du Toit Stadium, Potchefstroom
Kick-off: 19h00
Referee: Paul Mente
Saturday, 17 August

Boland Cavaliers v Griffons
Venue: Saldanha Stadium, Saldanha Bay
Kick-off: 14h30
Referee: Stuart Berry

Border Bulldogs v SWD Eagles
Venue: Police Park, East London
Kick-off: 15h00
Referee: Griffon Colby

EP Elephants v Valke
Venue: Callie de Wet Stadium, Despatch
Kick-off: 16h00
Referee: Egon Seconds

The First Division log is available here.

Issued by SA Rugby Communications