Currie Cup preview (Round 4)

Western Province will be looking to produce an emphatic response to their first defeat of the Currie Cup season when they take on the Free State Cheetahs on Friday night, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

FS Cheetahs v Western Province

WP produced a performance against the Vodacom Blue Bulls last weekend that coach John Dobson described as an ‘embarrassment to Western Province rugby’.

So, the defending champs will certainly have a point to prove at the Free State Stadium, with Dobson largely keeping faith in his team, making just one unenforced change to the starting lineup.

There is a solitary change to the Cheetahs side, and it’s understandable considering flyhalf Fred Zeilinga led a much-improved performance as they secured a bonus-point win over Griquas last weekend.

Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Ruan van Rensburg, 21 Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn.

Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Nizaam Carr (c), 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JP Smith, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dillyn Leyds.

Pumas v Golden Lions

Also on Friday night, the Golden Lions will be on the hunt for their fourth successive bonus-point win after making an impressive start to the Currie Cup season.

The Lions did suffer a late blow when captain Jaco Kriel was ruled out of the match after suffering an injury on Thursday, but coach Johan Ackermann is a big believer in backing the squad system.

Last weekend the Pumas laboured to victory over the EP Kings, but being back at home after two weeks on the road, they will be confident of producing a far better performance.

Pumas – 15 JW Bell, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (c), 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jason-Colin Fraser, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Rudi Mathee, 3 Khwezi Mona, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Jannie Stander, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Hoffmann Maritz.

Golden Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé (c), 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Stephan de Wit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Anthony Volmink.

Griquas v Blue Bulls

The Blue Bulls have been the enterprising surprise package of the Currie Cup season so far, and top the log after three successive bonus-point wins.

Their team relied on a late surge to overcome Western Province last weekend, but in the end were thoroughly deserving of a convincing 47-29 win.

Although the Bulls will be without dynamic scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, they do welcome back Arno Botha who replaces the injured Hanro Liebenberg and should prove too strong for the winless Griquas.

Griquas – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Sandile Ngcobo, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 RL Liebenberg, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jaco Nepgen, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Lux Koza, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Jonathan Francke, 22 Ruhan Nel.

Blue Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Nick de Jager, 20 André Warner, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Dan Kriel.

EP Kings v Sharks

The Sharks are desperate to return to winning ways, after a couple of early defeats this season has already left them with some catching up to do.

They’ll be hoping to begin shifting their Currie Cup campaign on an upward curve this Saturday, with coach Gary Gold continuing to back his young team, making just a solitary change up front.

Although the Durban-based side are in a rebuilding phase, they’re also aware that there needs to be signs of positive progress sooner rather than later, and a slip-up against an EP Kings side they're facing for the second time this season can't be afforded.

EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda 14 Siyanda Grey 13 Ronnnie Cooke (vc) 12 JP du Plessis 11 Luther Obi 10 Karlo Aspeling 9 Enrico Acker 8 Tim Agaba 7 Thembelani Bholi 6 Luke Watson (c) 5 Cornell Hess 4 Steven Sykes 3 Tom Botha 2 Martin Ferreira 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Subs: 16 Schalk Ferreira 17 Edgar Marutlulle 18 Simon Kerrod 19 Stefan Willemse 20 Paul Schoeman 21 Dwayne Kelly 22 Hansie Graaff

Sharks – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 JC Astle, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Stefan Ungerer, 21 Wandile Mjekevu, 22 Garth April.

Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis