Currie Cup preview (Round 5)

The Blue Bulls will look to keep their Currie Cup hopes alive when they clash with the Golden Lions at Loftus on Saturday.

Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions

Jacques du Plessis called it a must-win match, while Frans Ludeke went one step further by labelling it the 'biggest match of the year'. However you choose to describe this one, it's a massive match for the Blue Bulls. One win in four, they find themselves languishing near the foot of the table. Ludeke has spoken of a lack of execution, and the facts below tend to back up his assertions. The Bulls will need to find some cutting edge, and fast, or risk another season of failure.

Ludeke has acted to sharpen his attack, making six changes, five of them in the backline for Saturday's match. Rudy Paige and Jacques-Louis Potgieter will form a new halfback combination, while Springbok JJ Englebrecht returns at outside centre. Jamba Ulengo is set to make his debut on the wing, with Ulrich Beyers starting at fullback in place of the injured Jesse Kriel. Up front, Bongi Mbonambi gets a deserved start, with Callie Visagie dropping to the bench.

The Golden Lions have made three changes for the trip to Pretoria with Derick Minnie assuming the captaincy duties from Lionel Mapoe. His inclusion at eighthman is one of two changes to the pack, with Willie Wepener replacing Armand van der Merwe at hooker. In the backs, Jaco van der Walt has recovered from his knee injury to start at flyhalf while Andries Coetzee shifts to fullback, with Ruan Combrinck moving to the wing.

Blue Bulls – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Basil Short, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Ryan Nell.

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

31 – The number of defenders they've beaten (Rank 1)
24 – The number of clean breaks they've made (Rank 2)
8 – The number of tries they've scored (Rank 8)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

Western Province vs EP Kings

Western Province welcome the EP Kings to Newlands on Friday night as they look to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. Allister Coetzee's side have thrived on turnover ball this season, with their ability to transition from defence into attack quite breathtaking at times. The Kings for all their bravado have been disappointing, and could be on the receiving end of another hiding here if they continue to cough the ball up with such ease.

The injury to Seabelo Senatla has forced Coetzee to alter his team's settled back three, with Pat Howard coming in on the wing. In the only other backline change, Louis Schreuder gets a run at scrumhalf. Up front, vice-captain Pat Cilliers makes way for Brok Harris, while Ruan Botha will make his first Currie Cup start for Province.

The Kings have opted for a new midfield combination, with former Province players Dwayne Jenner and Tim Whitehead tasked with stemming the tide of tries. Ronnie Cooke shifts to the wing, while Siyanda Grey drops to the bench. In the only other change to the starting XV, Lizo Gqoboka starts at loosehead prop.

24 – The number of loose balls they've collected (Rank 1)
14 – The number of turnovers they've won (Rank 2)
13 – The number of tries they've scored (Rank 2)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

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

EP Kings – 15 Scott Van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Dwayne Jenner, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Shaun Macdonald, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 David Bulbring, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Subs: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Thembalani Bholi, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Shane Gates, 22 Siyanda Grey.

Free State Cheetahs vs Pumas

The Pumas, under coach Jimmy Stonehouse, have been the surprise package this season. Their uncompromising approach up front was complemented by some slick back play against the Sharks as they romped to a bonus-point victory. They've yet to win away, but this trip to Bloemfontein will provide them with a decent opportunity to change that. The Free State Cheetahs are improving, but Saturday's match will provide a clearer view of just where they are at the moment.

The home side have made just two changes to their starting XV for this one. Pieter-Steyn de Wet gets the No 10 jersey ahead of Willie du Plessis, while JP du Plessis will start at outside centre. Francois Venter will shift inside, with Joubert Engelbrecht making way.

Stonehouse has retained faith with the side that did the job against the Sharks. The only change comes on the bench where Hennie Skorbinski replaces Coenie van Wyk, who is still struggling with injury.

18 – The number of turnovers they've won (Rank 2)
34 – The number of penalties they've conceded (Rank 8)
5 – The number of lineouts they've stolen (Rank 1)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

FS Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 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 Werner Lourens, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Joubert Engelbrecht.

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 Terblanche, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 JC Roos, 22 Hennie Skorbinski.

Sharks vs Griquas

Uninspired on attack and porous on defence, the Sharks deserved nothing from the game against the Pumas. The side from KwaZulu-Natal have managed just nine tries this season, four coming in the victory over the Pumas in Durban. Sorely lacking any hulking ball-carriers to get across the gainline, this Sharks team is a poor reproduction of what has gone before.

Brad Macleod-Henderson has moved to rectify these deficiencies by making a number of changes for this weekend's game. Etienne Oosthuizen will add some bulk to the loose trio, while Heimar Williams will start at inside centre with S'bura Sithole shifting to the wing. Elsewhere, Jaco van Tonder gets a start at fullback, while Stephan Lewies and Wiehan Hay form a youthful looking second row.

Griquas come into this one without a win this season, although they pushed the Sharks all the way in the opening round despite playing almost the whole game with a numerical advantage. They've made four changes from the side that succumbed to the Cheetahs last weekend.

Francois Brummer has been restored to the flyhalf jersey and will captain the side, with Gouws Prinsloo slotting in at fullback. Doppies la Grange gets his first start in a Griquas jersey, replacing regular captain Wayne Stevens at inside centre while, in the final change, Hilton Lobberts returns as the enforcer in the second row.

2,350 – The number of metres they've run (Rank 7)
86 – The number of kicks from hand  they've made (Rank 1)
61 – The number of handling errors they've made (Rank 1)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App

Sharks – 15 Jaco van Tonder, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Wiehan Hay, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Marco Wentzel, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Tim Swiel.

Griquas – 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Francois Brummer (c), 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Carel Greeff, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Burger Schoeman, 20 RJ Liebenberg, 21 Abrie Griesel, 22 Dean Grant.

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