‘It should be a great final’
- 21 Oct 2014
SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on where the Currie Cup final will be won and lost and who they think are favourites.
OLLIE LE ROUX (former Bok prop)
'There is no clear winner for the final. Both teams have strengths and weaknesses to exploit. But the scrum may give the Lions the upper hand, because their scrums have been so dominant throughout the Currie Cup season. The battle will be won up front with the forwards. If the Lions pack can give the perfect platform for Marnitz Boshoff, then Western Province will have a tough day at the office. The loose forwards will also be a key factor of the game especially the likes of Jaco Kriel. Important values of the final will be the basics, the fundamentals of the game such as the lineouts and scrums. The expectation I have is a high-scoring game.'
ROBBIE KEMPSON (former Bok prop)
'This is a tough game to determine the winner. For Western Province, the final will be very different to the semi-final against the Blue Bulls especially if the Lions pitch up as they did against the Sharks. The game will be all about forward momentum, and which of the two packs will have the upper hand. Jaco Kriel has been a standout performer and he will be influential in Saturday's final as well as the other two loose forwards alongside him [Warren Whitely and Derick Minnie]. The Lions have been exceptional at set-piece play, and WP thrive on their defence. I doubt whether WP will be able to handle the powerful Lions scrum. With the exciting back three of Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Kobus van Wyk, anything can happen, especially on the counter-attack. Also, if Nizaam Carr isn't fit to play, Sikhumbuzo Notshe has proven himself as a worthy replacement.'
WAYNE FYVIE (former Bok flank)
'The game will be evenly contested. But I think the Lions will win because they seem to have that will and urge to win the Currie Cup. Any final depends on a host of things, and generally finals are won when a team takes full advantage of opportunities presented to them. It should be a great final because of the exciting style of rugby the two teams play, and they both deserve to be in the final. If the Lions play with the same approach they had against the Sharks, then they will be victorious. The Lions tight five are very dominant and that's a key component of the game. But if WP can disrupt the Lions' play, and stop them from building momentum, then WP will have a strong chance of winning. It's going to be an exciting final.'
CORNÈ KRIGE (former Bok flank)
'On the back of their performance against the Sharks, I think it's hard not to pick the Lions as the clear-cut favourites heading into this game. Home-ground advantage will level the playing field a bit, but finals are also won or lost at the set phases. The tight fives are very alike, therefore the battle between the loose forwards will be massive. The loosies will decide who rules the roost on Saturday. We know finals rugby comes down to which side can handle the pressure better and the best possible way to exercise pressure is to continually strike when you're in the red zone. Like Jaco Kriel did against the Sharks to set up the Ross Cronjé try, the loose forwards must lay a platform from which their halfbacks can strike. If Nizaam Carr is fit, I'm going for Western Province to win by six, because Newlands is such a tough away venue.'
JIMMY STONEHOUSE (Pumas coach)
'Scrummaging will be a big difference between the sides at Newlands. The Lions are scrumming very well and no other [team] has been able to match them at set piece. Although I believe the biggest threat to Western Province's title hopes is the Lions loose trio. Regardless of who Johan Ackermann has picked in those positions throughout the season, they have been the standout players in the competition. In Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Juan de Jongh, WP have the three most potent backline players, who can start something out of nothing. Last week I said the Bulls will be too physical for WP, but those three just ran rings around the Bulls and my prediction. But this Lions team are not the Bulls and their enitre team [reserves included] can inspire a single moment of brilliance. It's refreshing to watch them play. I feel Demetri Catrakilis hasn't got the recognition he deserves, maybe because he's not as flashy as some of his teammates. His calmness, good field-positioning and accurate goal-kicking will stand WP in good stead in the final. Nizaam Carr being fit is also a huge plus, but I doubt it will be enough. I predict a high-scoring match, with the Lions prevailing 32-25.'
KOBUS WIESE (former Lions lock)
'Very tough call, these are the two best and most enterprising teams in the competition. The respective forward packs will be decisive, although I think the Lions' tight five have the edge over WP's tight five. They destroyed the Sharks in the scrums and on the ground last week, a set piece they've dominated from the start of the Super Rugby tournament, through to the Currie Cup final. Another key battle will be between the loose forwards. I see Carr will play, which helps WP, but the Lions loose trio have been ridiculously good. Allister Coetzee should start with Nic Groom and Kurt Coleman. They say speak from the heart, well my heart is with the Lions, but this is the final of the oldest competition in the world, to be played in front of a hostile Newlands crowd. With so little between them, I think home-ground advantage will play a vital role. Western Province to nick it.'
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images
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