Where you should put your money on the Currie Cup and Rugby Championship this weekend, according to MARK KEOHANE.
Free State Cheetahs vs Pumas
The Pumas showed once again last weekend just what a threat they can be at home. They've now won all three of their home matches, with their sole defeat coming in Durban against the Sharks. They defeated the Cheetahs in the opening round in Nelspruit, but Rory Duncan's team have settled since then and look to be building nicely.
They've been installed as odds-on favourites here, but there is little value on the outright win. I'm backing the Cheetahs to win by more than a converted try, which can be found at 9/10 with various bookmakers.
Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions
The Golden Lions responded from their first setback of the Currie Cup season to beat the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth last weekend. On Saturday they travel across the Jukskei to face the Blue Bulls, who are still struggling to find any sort of form.
The Bulls couldn't live with the Lions in the first match between these two, and although they should be better this time around, I'm still favouring the visitors here. You can get them at 6/10 to win outright, or back them to win by seven points or more at 13/10 (R230 return on a R100 bet).
Western Province vs EP Kings
Much like last year, Western Province have been the form team during the regular season so far. Their rope-a-dope technique worked a charm against the Bulls as they ran in three tries in a wonderful display of counter-attacking rugby.
They shouldn't have too many problems seeing off the Kings, especially at Newlands, but the 'cap looks quite long for me. The Kings were better against the Lions last weekend and if they can maintain that upward curve, they'll be able to cover the +23.5 'cap (finish within 23 points of Province) at evens.
Sharks vs Griquas
The Sharks have struggled to find a good balance so far in the Currie Cup, where they've fallen into the bad habits they picked up during Super Rugby. Their more expansive approach has failed to materialise, while the massive overhaul in playing personnel has disrupted any thoughts of continuity.
Griquas have given the Sharks trouble in the past, and even managed a win in the corresponding fixture last season. While I don't expect them to repeat that feat here, a bet on Griquas to finish within 11 points seems like good value at 9/10.
Australia vs South Africa
It's the first rule when it comes to betting – go with your head, not with your heart. So while I would enjoy nothing more than for the Springboks to shake off their recent malaise and hammer the Australians like they did in Brisbane last year, I just don't see Saturday's game going in their favour.
I'm not alone, with the bookies installing the Wallabies at 6/10 favourites. That's good value for a side that has lost just once in their last nine Tests. The Boks are missing a couple key players and are too vulnerable at the moment for me to back them with any sort of confidence.
New Zealand vs Argentina
The All Blacks were sensational in their dismantling of Australia at Eden Park a couple weekends back. They proved themselves the pre-eminent side in world rugby, while the rest are still playing catch-up. The Pumas must be commended for their two performances against the Boks and, had they shown a bit more belief, they would have picked up their first Rugby Championship win.
Their improvement has been marked and although I don't expect them to shock the All Blacks in Napier, they certainly have enough about them to cover the handicap, which stands at a lengthy 29 points. Back the Pumas to come within 29 points of the All Blacks at 9/10.
Keo's weekend picks
Cheetahs (-6.5) 9/10
Lions (-6.5) 13/10
Kings (+23.5) 1/1
Griquas (+11.5) 9/10
Argentina (+23.5) 9/10
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images