Where you should put your money on the Currie Cup semi-finals this weekend, according to MARK KEOHANE.
It's semi-final time in the Currie Cup. The regular season provided us with some of the most entertaining rugby the competition has seen in years. That the tournament's top try-scoring teams, Western Province and the Golden Lions, secured home semi-finals says it all.
But play-off rugby is not just about scoring tries. Semi-finals are often decided by the boot and who handles pressure the best.
The bookies have little separating the four sides, with the two home teams marginal favourites for their respective semi-finals.
Western Province vs Blue Bulls
Province, along with the Lions, have been the pace-setters this season. They secured top spot on the log a couple weeks back, allowing them to give their frontline players a break heading into the play-offs. It should do them well. The Bulls were bullied on their last visit to Newlands and even the inclusion of Handré Pollard won't make too much of a difference here.
They've won three matches in a row, but only the Free State Cheetahs offered any sort of resistance. Province have been the better team all season and one player, albeit a very talented one, isn't going to change that. I've got Province to win comfortably, making the 'cap (Province to win by 7 or more points) a good bet at 9/10.
Golden Lions vs Sharks
The second semi-final should be a lot tighter. The Sharks head to Ellis Park with momentum after wins over Province and the Lions in recent weeks. They've improved as the season has worn on, but they've never quite reached the level of previous campaigns.
The Lions have been a joy to watch this season. Their loose trio has wreaked havoc against whoever they've played and their scrum is the most dominant in the competition. Johan Ackermann has this team playing their best rugby in years. They're not about to stop now. The Lions to take it by seven points, which makes the home 'cap another solid bet at 9//10 (R190 return for every R100 wagered).
Keo's weekend picks
Western Province (-6.5) 9/10
Golden Lions (-4.5) 9/10
Double odds: 27/10
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images