With the Currie Cup log positions set in stone and the semi-finalists confirmed going into this weekend’s final pool round, log leaders, the Bulls, will target winning momentum in Nelspruit, while pride will be at stake in Kimberley.
The Bulls sealed the top spot on the standings on Wednesday for a home semi-final and pole position for a home final when they defeated the Xerox Lions 22-15 in Pretoria, and these sides will meet again in a repeat of this encounter in the semi-final.
Western Province will host the Sharks in Cape Town in the other semi-final after their closing pool match, scheduled to play out in Cape Town on Saturday, was cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols and declared a draw.
As a result of this, only two matches will be played this weekend – both of which will be broadcast live on SuperSport. First up, Griquas host the Cheetahs in Kimberley on Saturday at 16h30 and on Sunday, the Pumas take on the Bulls at the Mbombela Stadium at 16h00.
Click on the links for the full team announcements.
Pride at stake in Kimberley
There may only be pride at stake when Tafel Lager Griquas welcome the Toyota Cheetahs to Kimberley on Saturday, but this is expected to bring out the best in the teams in what could prove to be a gripping Carling Currie Cup match-up.
Form may favour the Free Staters, who will enter the match with five victories in their 11 matches this season, but they will be careful to write off the home side, who have a favourable track record of three wins in four outings against them in the Currie Cup since 2017 – two of which were in Kimberley.
Griquas made two changes to the backline and two up front for the central clash, with Daniel Kasende starting on the right wing and Harlon Klaasen being named on his inside, in place of Enver Brandt and Berton Klaassen respectively.
In the forward pack, Adre Smith comes in for Ewan Coetzee at lock, and Mox Mxoli (prop) earns a start in place of Andrew Beerwinkel.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie made wholesale changes to his matchday squad, with six changes in the starting team and a new-look bench.
There were three changes to the forward pack, two of which were in the front row – Marnus van der Merwe takes over from the injured Wilmar Arnoldi at hooker, and Conraad van Vuuren (prop) moves up from the replacements bench in place of Khutha Mchunu.
In the loose trio, George Cronje, a star of the SA Schools side in 2019, fills the void left by the experienced Oupa Mohoje, who is nursing a back injury.
In the backline, Duncan Saal gets a run on the right wing, which sees Rosko Specman switch to the other side and Rhyno Smith drop down to the bench, while Tian Meyer takes over from Ruben de Haas at scrumhalf.
Griquas – 15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (Captain), 8 Johan Momsen, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Mox Mxoli. Replacements (from): 16 CJ Conradie, 17 Bandisa Ndlovu, 18 Tijde Visser, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 Siba Qoma, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Ederies Arendse, 24 Andrew Beerwinkel, 25 Raegan Oranje, 26 Masixole Banda.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 George Cronje, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner (captain), 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Boan Venter. Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Match information – Griquas v Cheetahs
Date: Saturday, 9 January 2021
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby and Paul Mente
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby
Bulls target winning momentum in Nelspruit
The Bulls will have their sights set squarely on building winning momentum in preparation for the Carling Currie Cup playoffs when they line up against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Sunday following their return to the field earlier this week for the first time after almost a month out of action.
With a quick four-day turnaround from their last match – against the Xerox Lions – they will be bracing themselves for a tough test physically and mentally in the Lowveld.
History favours the Bulls, who have suffered only one defeat against the Lowvelders in the competition since 2011. But the visitors’ will be mindful of the fact that the Pumas come off narrow defeats against the Cheetahs and Lions respectively and should not be written off.
Pumas head coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, opted for consistency in selection for the clash making only one personnel change in the starting team.
Alwayno Visagie is promoted from the replacements bench to the run on team in place of Erich Cronje at outside centre.
The only other difference to the starting XV that went down 33-25 against the Xerox Lions last week, was in the engine room where locks Pieter Jansen van Vuren and Darrien Landsberg switch numbers.
Due to their match on Wednesday and COVID-19 testing protocols, the Vodacom Bulls team will be announced on Saturday.
Phakisa Pumas – 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Devon Williams, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Darrien Landsberg, 4 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 3 Ignatius Prinsloo, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude. Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Eduan Swart, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Giovan Snyman, 21 Tiaan Botes, 22 Sebastian de Klerk, 23 Liam Hendricks.
Vodacom Bulls – TBC
Match information – Phakisa Pumas v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Sunday, 10 January 2021
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge and AJ Jacobs
TMO: Johan Greeff
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby