Absa Currie Cup Preview – Week 4

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The Vodacom Blue Bulls and Toyota Free State Cheetahs have tough home games in the Absa Currie Cup on Saturday as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing defeats.

 

On Friday evening, The Sharks face a tricky encounter against a resurgent GWK Griquas side in Kimberley – at the same venue where the defending champions started their 2010 campaign with a loss last season.

 

Also on Friday, the Platinum Leopards host the Ford Pumas in Potchefstroom. Both these sides are still looking for their first victory of the season.

 

Platinum Leopards vs Ford Pumas

 

Even though they’ve lost all three their Absa Currie Cup Premier Division matches to date, the Ford Pumas are higher on the log than the Vodacom Blue Bulls, by virtue of a better points’ difference.

 

And after having come very close to victory in all three their previous matches, the Ford Pumas will be anxious to get that first win of the season on the board.

 

Last year they won both games against the Platinum Leopards, which could point to the team from Mpumalanga being favourites for this match, but they will be mindful of the North Westerners’ performance in Johannesburg last week.

 

The Platinum Leopards might have been on the wrong side of the stick in their first two Absa Currie Cup games in 2011, but at Coca-Cola Park they played much better, and with 10 minutes to go were still drawn on the score board with the MTN Golden Lions.

 

“Yes, the Leopards were not great in their first two games, but against the Golden Lions last week they really played very well and will be ready for us with their tails up,” said Ford Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse.

 

“We were disappointed with our first half performance against Griquas last week, but came back strongly in the second half and that’s what I’d like to see in Potch this weekend. We have not shifted our focus at all and still believe we can win if we’re at our best and we do what we’re supposed to for the full 80 minutes.”

 

Platinum Leopards vs Ford Pumas

Date: Friday, 5 August

Kick-off: 19:00

Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom

Referee: Lourens vd Merwe

Last year in Absa Currie Cup:

  • ·         17 July: Ford Pumas won 37-32 in Witbank
  • ·         3 September: Ford Pumas won 27-26 in Potchefstroom

 

GWK Griquas vs The Sharks

 

Last year The Sharks came up short in Kimberley in their opening Absa Currie Cup fixture, but this time around they have built up momentum thanks to three good victories thus far.

 

GWK Griquas have also not enjoyed the best start to the season, winning their first game last weekend in Nelspruit against the Ford Pumas after a draw at DHL Newlands and a big defeat at Coca-Cola Park.

 

“We’re very happy with the result in Nelspruit, but obviously we wouldn’t have minded a better second half performance. Having said that, the victory gave us huge confidence,” said GWK Griquas coach Abré Minnie.

 

“But The Sharks will also come to Kimberley very confident – they’ve won three games and John Plumtree has opted to put his returning Boks on the bench. I think that’s a good move, as they have momentum and would like to keep it. The Sharks are definitely riding the crest of the wave at the moment.”

 

After GWK Park’s lights were fixed up for the FIFA World Cup last year, this will be the first Friday night Absa Currie Cup match in Kimberley in a few years.

 

“We’re certainly looking forward to it. Last Friday we saw a higher intensity in the Pumas game, almost as if the players had more energy. Hopefully we’ll play with the same vigour this week,” said Minnie.

 

GWK Griquas vs The Sharks

Date: Friday, 5 August

Kick-off: 19:10

Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley

Referee: Pro Legoete

Last year in Absa Currie Cup:

  • ·         10 July: GWK Griquas won 40-34 in Kimberley
  • ·         27 August: The Sharks won 48-30 in Durban

 

Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs DHL Western Province

 

After two consecutive defeats, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are with their backs to the wall when they host high-flying DHL Western Province in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

 

Last year DHL WP won the corresponding fixture at the Free State Stadium, but this time around they are up against a Cheetahs side that feature three returning Springboks – two of them in the front row – and will be up for the challenge.

 

DHL WP captain and hooker, Tiaan Liebenberg, whose brother Hercu has been included on the Cheetahs bench, said: “The return of their Boks will definitely boost the Cheetahs. Those guys are all quality players and apart from Ashley Johnson they have not played a lot, so they would like to show they deserve spot in the team.

 

“The Cheetahs will be firing on Saturday. They have a very good side and always play with heart and soul in Bloemfontein. They are a dangerous side from broken play and can hold onto the ball for 15, 16 phases. We’re going to have to protect our possession.”

 

Liebenberg said it’s great to be leading an exuberant team like DHL WP: “We have a lot of good young players who are trying to make their mark in Absa Currie Cup and we did very well against the Blue Bulls last week. That all comes down to hard work, but we are blessed with a good blend of youth and experience.”

 

Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs DHL Western Province

Date: Saturday, 6 August

Kick-off: 15:00

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Sindile Mayende

Last year in Absa Currie Cup:

  • ·         10 July: DHL WP won 25-11 in Bloemfontein
  • ·         27 August: Toyota FS Cheetahs won 29-24 in Cape Town

 

Vodacom Blue Bulls vs MTN Golden Lions

 

An 80 minute effort will be needed at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon if the MTN Golden Lions are going to beat their neighbours from across the Jukskei River in the Absa Currie Cup Gauteng-derby.

 

As one of only three unbeaten teams in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division, the MTN Golden Lions face their toughest challenge to date when they travel to Pretoria to play a Vodacom Blue Bulls side bolstered by the return of seven Springboks. This includes a full Bok front row in Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dean Greyling.

 

The Golden Lions have included their solitary Springbok, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, in their side that will travel to Pretoria.

 

Johan Ackermann, forwards coach of the MTN Golden Lions, realises it won’t be an easy match, even though the Blue Bulls lost heavily to DHL Western Province in Cape Town last weekend.

 

Ackermann had this to say about the upcoming derby: “If we play as well as we can we can do it, regardless of the resistance we get. It is definitely a plus for the Bulls to have those players back, but it will also motivate us to give a good performance.

 

“We tend to have lapses in concentration in games. If you want to beat the Bulls you have to play for 80 minutes – especially when they’re back against the wall. But our main challenge is just to keep our own game at a high standard.”

 

Vodacom Blue Bulls vs MTN Golden Lions

Date: Saturday, 6 August

Kick-off: 17:05

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Last year in Absa Currie Cup:

  • ·         31 July: Vodacom Blue Bulls won 32-18 in Johannesburg
  • ·         18 September: Vodacom Blue Bulls won 24-21 in Pretoria

 

ABSA Currie Cup First Division

 

Only two games take place in the Absa Currie Cup First Division this weekend, with the EP Kings travelling to Kempton Park where they will be looking to take over first place on the log from the Regent Boland Cavaliers on Friday.

 

The EP Kings face the Valke at Barnard Stadium on Friday afternoon and the Cavaliers, currently in first position on the log with a full house of 15 points, have a bye this weekend.

 

EP put up a big score in their last match against the Tasol Solar Griffons and while the East Rand is not the easiest place to visit, they will still go into this match confident of getting the win.

 

The Tasol Solar Griffons host the SWD Eagles on Saturday afternoon in a replay of last year’s Absa Currie Cup First Division semi-final. The team from the Southern Cape beat their Northern Free State counterparts in all three matches last year.

 

SWD, First Division runners up last year, had to work very hard for victory in Welkom in 2010 though, when they scraped through by 18-14 after the Griffons scored two converted tries late in the match.

 

Valke vs EP Kings

Date: Friday, 5 August

Kick-off: 15:00

Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)

Last year in Absa Currie Cup First Division:

  • ·         7 August: EP Kings won 38-3 in Port Elizabeth
  • ·         17 September: EP Kings won 50-35 in Kempton Park

 

Tasol Solar Griffons vs SWD Eagles

Date: Saturday, 6 August

Kick-off: 15:00

Venue: North West Stadium, Welkom

Referee: Jason Jaftha

Last year in Absa Currie Cup First Division:

  • ·         31 July: SWD won 18-14 in Welkom
  • ·         10 September: SWD won 42-27 in George
  • ·         8 October: SWD won 32-30 in George (semi-final)

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