Western Province will look to build on an impressive start to their Currie Cup title defence when they host the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Western Province vs Free State Cheetahs
John Dobson’s charges produced a clinical performance against Griquas in Kimberley last weekend to clinch a 43-19 victory that sent out a clear message about their title ambitions.
Encouragingly, Province displayed a refreshing inclination to keep the ball in hand against Griquas, and some of their attack was particularly impressive for a season-opening encounter.
Dobson has seen no need to change his starting lineup, while by contrast, counterpart Franco Smith made a number of changes to the Cheetahs team after last weekend’s 57-19 loss to the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The Cheetahs will be desperate to quickly bounce back, and a number of players will have a point to prove.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Subs: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Charlie van Jaarsveld.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Neil Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Gerhard Olivier, 20 Zee Mkabela, 21 Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn.
Blue Bulls vs Griquas
The Vodacom Blue Bulls were the surprise package in the opening round of action as they hammered the Cheetahs.
Former Springbok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard produced an outstanding performance, while halfback partner Tian Schoeman impressively slotted nine goal kicks out of nine.
New coach Nollis Marais would have been thrilled with a bonus-point away win, and now back at Loftus, an unchanged starting lineup will be looking to replicate the same form.
Blue Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dries Swanepoel.
Griquas – 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotzé, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Kop van der Westhuizen, 18 Jaco Nepgen, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Poerie van Rooyen, 21 Clinton Swart, 22 Jacquin Jansen.
Golden Lions vs Pumas
Early indications suggest the Golden Lions will be strong contenders for this year’s title, as evidenced in their emphatic victory over the EP Kings last weekend.
The Kings simply stood no chance as the free-flowing Lions ran in four tries in the first 15 minutes, followed by little let up from them to finish with a flurry.
However, they are likely to face a far sterner test against the passionate Pumas, who kicked off their campaign with a noteworthy victory over the Sharks.
The Pumas have stuck with the same team that did the business against the Sharks, and they’ll be looking to spring another surprise in Johannesburg.
Golden Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink/Sampie Mastriet, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Stokkies Hanekom, 22 Jaco van der Walt.
Pumas – 15 JW Bell, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (c), 11 Rosco Spekman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Lambert Groenewald, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Giant Mtyanda, 3 De-Jay Terblanché, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jason-Colin Fraser, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Hoffmann Maritz.
Sharks vs EP Kings
The Sharks desperately need to respond with a commanding performance after last weekend’s shock loss to the Pumas.
Gary Gold’s team were thoroughly outplayed, particularly in the first half, and they were self-admittedly surprised by the Pumas’ intensity.
The Sharks will be determined to produce a far more accurate performance, and despite a few injury-enforced changes, they should have more than enough firepower to wear down the Kings.
Sharks – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Wandile Mjekevu, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 André Esterhuizen, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 18 Dave McDuling, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 22 Michael Claassens, 21 Paul Jordaan, 22 SP Marais.
EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Luther Obi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Paul Schoeman, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Karlo Aspeling.
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images