Western Province’s hopes of hosting a semi-final will be on the line when they face the log-leading Golden Lions at Ellis Park, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Golden Lions vs Western Province
WP are currently level with the second-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls on log points, but the team from Pretoria has a marginally better points difference.
The Bulls will play the EP Kings and Pumas in their final two Currie Cup league matches and could well bank a full haul of log points from them. So Province will know that any chance of leapfrogging the Bulls into second place really will come down to their result on Friday.
The defending champs have been boosted by the return of captain Juan de Jongh, while Cheslin Kolbe passed a late fitness test and will start at fullback.
WP have impressively won their last four games, and will now face a massive test of their title credentials as they go up against a team that for all money looks to be the champions in waiting.
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Steph de Wit, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Stokkies Hanekom, 22 Sampie Mastriet.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Chris van Zyl, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Huw Jones.
Blue Bulls vs EP Kings
The Bulls snapped a two-match losing run with an important victory over the Sharks last weekend, and will be determined to back that up with a big win at Loftus on Friday to consolidate their second place on the log.
They’ve had to bid farewell to Jan Serfontein, who has joined the Boks, but the Bulls should be far too strong for the Kings, and a bonus-point win must be seen as a priority.
Blue Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marvin Orie, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 William Small-Smith.
EP Kings – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead (c), 11 Luther Obi, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Paul Schoeman, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Dwayne Kelly, 22 Karlo Aspeling.
Griquas vs Sharks
The Sharks’ season is hanging by a thread, and a much-needed win is simply non-negotiable if the Durban-based side hopes to have any chance of still sneaking into the play-offs.
The fifth-placed Sharks currently find themselves four log points behind the Cheetahs, but these two teams will go head-to-head in the final league match next weekend. So there is still a potential lifeline for the Sharks to grab onto if they can overcome Griquas, and while they should be expected to do so, Kimberley is never an easy place to play.
Marco Wentzel returns to the starting lineup for this match and the veteran lock will be looking to lead the Sharks to a decisive victory.
Griquas – 15 Ntabeni Dukisa, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Michael Van Der Spuy, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ruhan Nel, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Jonathan Janse Van Rensburg, 6 RJ Lebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotzé, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 AJ Le Roux, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Leon Karemaker, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Dylon Frylink, 21 Gouws Prinsloo, 22 Sandile Ngobo.
Sharks – 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Christiaan de Bruin, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Garth April.
Pumas vs Free State Cheetahs
The Cheetahs will be desperate to keep a bit of daylight between them and the Sharks, so a victory in Nelspruit on Saturday is an absolute must.
Oupa Mohoje returns to boost the Cheetahs for this clash, but they certainly cannot afford to underestimate the Pumas, who gave Western Province a bit of a fright last weekend before fading away in the second half.
Pumas – 15 John-Wessel Bell, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 Hoffmann Maritz, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (captain), 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Jason-Colin Fraser, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Jaco Bouwer, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Rudi Mathee, 19 Marnus Schoeman, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Hennie Skorbinski, 22 Bernardo Botha.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 De Wet Kruger, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Reniel Hugo, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Teunis Nieuwoudt.
Subs: 16 Chase Morison, 17 BG Uys, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Ruan van Rensburg, 21 Niel Marais, 22 AJ Coertzen.
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images