• Currie Cup preview (Round 4)

    Western Province will look to cement their place at the top of the Currie Cup log when they travel to Loftus on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.

    Blue Bulls vs Western Province

    Province were ruthless in their dismantling of the Bulls at Newlands a fortnight ago. Starved of possession and forced to defend for long periods, Allister Coetzee's men still managed to outscore their opponents six tries to one.

    For the Bulls, a massive personnel change followed that defeat, although they didn't fare much better, stumbling to victory over the EP Kings. As the statistics below reflect, the Bulls have seen plenty ball, but lacked a cutting edge, in stark contrast to Saturday's opponents.

    Frans Ludeke has been forced to make a change at flyhalf after Tony Jantjies was ruled out with concussion. Jacques-Louis Potgieter has been bracketed with young Joshua Stander and will be given time to prove his fitness. Piet van Zyl is restored at scrumhalf, while Callie Visagie and Werner Kruger will start in the front row.

    Province have made only one change from the side that saw off the Golden Lions in their last outing, with Jaco Taute handed his first Currie Cup start for the union at inside centre.

    BULLS' STATS THAT MATTER
    6 – The number of tries they've scored (Rank 8)
    378 – The number of carries they've made (Rank 1)
    2,682 – The number of metres they've run (Rank 2)
    Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

    Blue Bulls – 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
    Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Hencus van Wyk, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Ryan Nell.

    Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
    Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Pat Howard.

    Pumas vs Sharks

    The Sharks have managed three consecutive victories, without playing particularly well. While some may point to it being the sign of a championship team, the Sharks simply can't continue to underperform.

    They look a team in limbo, constrained by the remnants of Jake White's Super Rugby reign and unable to embrace the faster, more fluid game plan required to get the best out of this group of players.

    Cameron Wright has paid for his lethargic performance against the Free State Cheetahs with Conrad Hoffmann getting his chance to impress in the No 9 jersey. In the only other change for the trip to Nelspruit, JC Astle returns from injury in the second row.

    The Pumas have also made a change at scrumhalf, with Dylon Frylinck getting his first start for his new side. Elsewhere in the backline, Rosko Speckman and JW Bell have both been included in the run-on team.

    SHARKS' STATS THAT MATTER
    61 – The number of handling errors they've made (Rank 1)
    86 – The number of kicks from hand (Rank 1)
    20 – The number of clean breaks they've made (Rank 2)
    Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

    Pumas – 15 JW Bell, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Dylon Frylinck, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Corné Fourie.
    Subs: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 DeJay Terblanché, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 JC Roos, 22 Coenie van Wyk.

    Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 JC Astle, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
    Subs: 16 Franco Marais,17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje.

    Griquas vs Free State Cheetahs

    The Cheetahs were desperately unlucky against the Sharks last weekend. They were the better team for long stretches and only fell behind in the 76th minute. Once again their inability to finish off half chances cost them, as it did against the Pumas in their opening match. Griquas were second best in Nelspruit, but on their home turf they'll be a handful.

    They've retained the side that went down to the Pumas last time out, with Dean Grant given another chance at flyhalf following an encouraging debut. In the only changes to the match-day squad, Maks van Dyk (prop), RJ Liebenburg (flank) and Rocco Jansen (wing) will take their places on the bench.

    The Cheetahs have made only one injury-enforced change to their starting XV, with Henco Venter replacing Carl Wegner in the second row.

    CHEETAHS' STATS THAT MATTER
    4 – The number of turnovers they've won (Rank 8)
    34 – The number of knock-ons they've made (Rank 1)
    2,438 – The number of metres they've run (Rank 3)
    Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

    Griquas – 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Wayne Stevens (c), 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Ruan Lerm, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steph Roberts.
    Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Janro Van Niekerk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Burger Schoeman, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Doppies La Grange, 22 Rocco Jansen.

    Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie Du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Henco Venter, 3 Dolph Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Kevin Stevens.
    Subs: 16 AJ Le Roux, 17 George Marich, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn De Wet, 22 JP Du Plessis.

    EP Kings vs Golden Lions

    The Kings remain firmly rooted to the foot of the log following their defeat to the Bulls at Loftus. They will take encouragement from that performance, with their pack standing up well to the Bulls' onslaught. With all due respect to the Bulls, the Lions will provide a completely different proposition in Port Elizabeth this weekend.

    Carlos Spencer's side were unable to maintain pace with the Lions in Johannesburg, and will be hoping that a return to home comforts will bring about a change of fortunes.

    The Kings were dealt a double injury blow this week with Luke Watson (concussion) and Gary van Aswegan (groin) forced to miss Saturday's match. Aidon Davis and George Whitehead will come in as replacements, while BG Uys will start at loosehead prop as Lizo Gqoboka is rested.

    The Lions will also be fielding a new flyhalf this weekend, as Andries Coetzee takes over from Stokkies Hanekom in the pivot position. Hanekom has shifted to outside centre forcing a reshuffle among the backs. In the forwards, Warren Whiteley returns to captain the side, Jaco Kriel will start in the No 6 jersey and Armand van der Merwe comes in at hooker.

    LIONS' STATS THAT MATTER
    14 – The number of tries they've scored (Rank 1)
    20 – The number of clean breaks they've made (Rank 1)
    38 – The number of offloads they've made (Rank 2)
    Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

    EP Kings –  15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke/Siyanda Grey, 13 Tim Whitehead/Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 BG Uys,
    Subs: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Siyanda Grey/Dwayne Jenner, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.

    Golden Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Lionel Mapoe (c), 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Andries Coetzee, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
    Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ricky Schroeder, 22 Howard Mnisi.

    SA Rugby mag team's SuperBru predictions

    Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix