Western Province will want to maintain their unbeaten start to the season when they travel to Ellis Park on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
Golden Lions vs Western Province
While the 27-14 scoreline reflected a comfortable victory for Province at Newlands earlier this season, the Lions were well in the game until a late Jaco Taute try against the run of play settled things. The Golden Lions were uncharacteristically wasteful that day, while their follow-up performance against the Blue Bulls last weekend was lethargic at best.
Coach Johan Ackermann has shaken things up, making eight changes to the side that surrendered meekly at Loftus. Ricky Schroeder replaces Ross Cronjé at scrumhalf, while the inclusion of Courtnall Skosan has meant a reshuffle in the backline. Willie Britz, Kwagga Smith and Jaco Kriel will form a new back row, although the latter remains doubtful.
The Province side resembles the same outfit that did the job against the Kings. Cheslin Kolbe has recovered to take his place at fullback while, in the only change to the backline, Kurt Coleman gets his first start of the season. Pat Cilliers comes in at tighthead prop, while Scarra Ntubeni returns to the bench.
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe (c), 12 Stokkies Hanekom, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ricky Schroeder, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel/Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg/Steph de Wit, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Howard Mnisi.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Manuel Carizza, 19 Sikhumbuza Notshe, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Demetri Catrakilis, 22 Justin Geduld.
EP Kings vs Blue Bulls
Things haven't gone according to plan since the Kings' re-admission to the Currie Cup Premier Division. No wins and one point from a possible 25, in fact, they couldn't have gone much worse. This week they welcome a rejuvenated Bulls team to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Both teams will be desperate for the win, for very different reasons.
Kings coach Carlos Spencer has tweaked things here and there, with the most notable inclusion being the return of Gary van Aswegen. His tactical game flies in the face of Spencer's expansive approach, but it may just be what they require to turn things around. Springbok prop CJ van der Linde also returns to the fold as they look to build any platform of sorts.
The Bulls are able to call on the returning duo of Akona Ndungane and Bjorn Basson this weekend and, more importantly, their aerial prowess. Expect balls to rain down out of the Port Elizabeth sky, courtesy of the boot of Jacques-Louis Potgieter. In the only other change, Piet van Zyl continues his rotation with Rudy Paige at scrumhalf.
EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Devon Oosthuizen, 6 Shaun McDonald, 5 Steven Sykes (c), 4 David Bulbring, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Mike van Vuuren, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 BG Uys, 19 Darron Nell, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Tobie Botes, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Blue Bulls – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Basil Short, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman/Tony Jantjies, 22 William Small-Smith.
Griquas vs Pumas
Prior to the season, this match had the making of a relegation battle but, just a month on, it could go a long way in deciding the Pumas' play-off aspirations. Jimmy Stonehouse's team find themselves in second position on the overall log, with a six-point buffer to the fifth-placed Cheetahs. A win in Kimberley will consolidate their position and, given their performance in Bloemfontein at the weekend, they're more than capable of success on the road.
Griquas may have gotten the rub of the green against the Sharks to pick up their first victory of the season, but they made full use of their opportunities. Coach Hawies Fourie has retained faith in the side that did the job in Durban, with flyhalf Francois Brummer continuing his role as captain.
The Pumas have made just two changes to their side for the trip to Kimberley. Reynier van Rooyen replaces the injured Dylon Frylinck at scrumhalf, while Coenie van Wyk will make his first start of the season at fullback.
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.
Pumas – 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 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 Sinovuyo Nyoka, 21 JC Roos, 22 JW Bell.
Free State Cheetahs vs Sharks
The Sharks and Cheetahs are currently ambling through the competition, with very little to suggest that they'll be anything more than losing semi-finalists. The Cheetahs were simply outplayed at home against the Pumas, while the Sharks could barely hold onto a ball in their defeat to Griquas. Both coaches are coming under increasing pressure, exhibited by the raft of changes in both camps.
Rory Duncan responded by reshuffling his whole backline, barring Sarel Pretorius. Rayno Benjamin has been installed in the final line of defence, while Willie du Plessis is tasked with running the show. Caylib Oosthuizen and George Marich will provide fresh impetus in the front row, while Lappies Labuschagne starts at No 8.
The Sharks have also undergone wholesale changes for the match. Tim Swiel will start at fullback, while Lionel Cronjé gets a run at flyhalf. Elsewhere in the backline, André Esterhuizen will make his Currie Cup debut, while Tonderai Chavhanga comes in on the left wing. In the forwards, Marco Wentzel replaces the injured Wiehan Hay and Dale Chadwick comes in for Thomas du Toit, who drops to the bench.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Rayno Benjamin, 14 Maphutha Dolo, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 JP du Plessis, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lappies Labuschagne, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Henco Venter, 3 George Marich, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Werner Lourens, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 AJ Coertzen.
Sharks – 15 Tim Swiel, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marco Wentzel, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Khaya Majola, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 SP Marais.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix