Last chance for Cheetahs, Lions, Blue Bulls to determine their fate

Oct 10 • General News, National, South Africa • 3050 Views • 1 Comment on Last chance for Cheetahs, Lions, Blue Bulls to determine their fate

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The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, MTN Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls will know their Absa Currie Cup fate on Saturday night following the conclusion of the competition’s round-robin stages, and unfortunately one of the teams will be left heart-broken.

DHL Western Province and The Sharks have already secured their home semifinals, while the Cheetahs, Lions and Blue Bulls will battle it out for the other two semifinal places in an exciting finale to the pool stages.

In Saturday’s final round the MTN Golden Lions host GWK Griquas at Ellis Park, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Free State Stadium and The Sharks take on DHL Western Province at Growthpoint Kings Park.

With a five point lead over the fifth-placed Blue Bulls, Free State are in the most comfortable position on the log standings, as a bonus point would guarantee them a semifinal berth. However, should they suffer a defeat without a bonus point and by 8 points or more and the Blue Bulls win the clash with a bonus point, they would fail to qualify for the semifinals.

The Golden Lions, meanwhile, will back themselves to beat Griquas on form, and should they achieve this, they will be guaranteed a semifinal berth.

One of the main features of this round will be the return of the Springbok players following the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, which will provide a welcome boost for some teams.

MTN Golden Lions vs GWK Griquas

The MTN Golden Lions will enter their clash against GWK Griquas as favourites despite coming off back-to-back defeats against Western Province and The Sharks respectively. The fact that the Johannesburg team has to win to ensure that they cement their semifinal spot as they take to the field before the Cheetahs and Blue Bulls, who are also in the running for semifinal places, will motivate them significantly. The Lions, however, may have to work hard for a win as Griquas have earned five bonus points for suffering defeats by seven points or less, and they will be determined to end the competition on a high note.

MTN Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made four personnel changes to his starting team, with the most notable being the return of Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe, who made his Test debut against the All Blacks in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test last Saturday. The other changes were in front row where prop Jacques van Rooyen and hooker Willie Wepener were promoted to the starting team alongside Julian Redelinghuys. In the backline Lionel Cronje drops to the bench to make way for Deon Helberg in a backline reshuffle.

GWK Griquas coach Pote Human, meanwhile, made wholesale changes to his team as he opted to rest his star players for the promotion-relegations games against the Pumas, with only five players who started against the Cheetahs last week retaining their places in the run-on team. These players are fullback Gouws Prinsloo, wing Rocco Jansen and forwards Leon Karemaker, RJ Liebenberg and Jaco Nepgen. Prop Lourens Adriaanse also returns to the starting lineup after being called up to the national team for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

MTN Golden Lions: Chrysander Botha; Deon Helberg, Lionel Mapoe, Andries Coetzee, Anthony Volmink; Marnitz Boshoff, Michael Bondesio; Warren Whiteley, Derick Minnie (capt), Warwick Tecklenburg; Franco van der Merwe, Chris van Zyl; Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Bees Roux, Lambert Groenewald, Willie Britz, Ross Cronje, Lionel Cronje, Kobus de Kock.

GWK Griquas: Gouws Prinsloo; Luzuko Vulindlu, Jean Stemmet, Jonathan Francke, Rocco Jansen; Du Randt Gerber, Jacques Coetzee; Leon Karemaker, Jaco Nepgen, RJ Liebenberg; Rory Arnold, Ligtoring Landman; Lourens Adriaanse, Matthew Dobson, Janro van Niekerk. Replacements: Simon Westraadt, Brummer Badenhorst, Dalton Davis, Patrick O’Brien, Enrico Acker, JP Nel, Logan Basson.

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Sieg van Staden
TMO: Johan Greeff

Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs Vodacom Blue Bulls

The match-up between the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls is expected to be tense as the teams fight for survival in the series. The hosts will enter the clash with confidence following their morale-boosting 52-21 victory against the GWK Griquas last week, while the Blue Bulls are expected to feel the pressure after coming off four back-to-back defeats. But given the fact that the Cheetahs have a five-point lead on the log, the Blue Bulls will be aware that it will take a big performance to sneak into the semifinal.

The scrums are expected to be one of the key areas for the Cheetahs, especially with Springboks Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen reuniting with Trevor Nyakane in a national front row. The Blue Bulls’ backline, meanwhile, has been strengthened by Springbok centres JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein, which should add a new dimension to their play.

The other changes to the Cheetahs team are at wing where Ryno Benjamin replaces Piet Lindeque and in the loose trio where Philip van der Walt slots in at No8 at the expense of Teboho Mohoje. The only other change to the Blue Bulls starting team is in the loose trio where Jacques Engelbrecht earns a start alongside Jono Ross and Jacques du Plessis, which allows Wiaan Liebenberg to lead their Under-21 team.

Toyota Free State Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller; Ryno Benjamin, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule; Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius; Philip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo; Lood de Jager, Francois Uys; Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: AJ le Roux, Schalk van der Merwe, Teboho Mohoje, Freddy Ngoza, Piet van Zyl, Piet Lindeque, Willie du Plessis.

Vodacom Blue Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross (capt), David Bulbring, Paul Willemse, Frik Kirsten, Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh, Jean Cook, Lohan Jacobs, Francois Venter, Clayton Blommetjies.

Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, Francois de Bruin
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee with Nic van Stryp in training

The Sharks vs DHL Western Province

The clash between The Sharks and DHL Western Province will be viewed as a warm-up to the final as the teams are both set to host home semifinals next week, and have been tipped as the favourites to battle it out for the trophy. The fact that the winning team will finish the round-robin stages as the top team for a possible home final is expected to fuel their motivation heading into the clash. Interestingly the Sharks have won five of the last eight matches between the teams, with three of those wins being at home.

The return of the Springbok players in both camps has resulted in a handful of changes to the teams, with the Sharks welcoming back the Bok front row of Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira, while uncapped lock Pieter-Steph du Toit also earns a start. Bok utility back Pat Lambie has been included on the bench. Western Province coach Allister Coetzee also bolstered his team with centre Juan de Jongh, looseforwards Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi and lock Eben Etzebeth. Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, meanwhile, following his heavy work-load in the national team, has been named on a quality bench which includes the likes of Schalk Burger and Michael Rhodes.

The Sharks: SP Marais; Odwa Ndungane, Tim Whitehead, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo; Fred Zeilinga, Charl McLeod; Keegan Daniel (capt), Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee; Pieter-Steph du Toit, Peet Marais; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Stephan Lewies, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Louis Ludik.

DHL Western Province: Gio Aplon; Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Demetri Catrakilis, Louis Schreuder; Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Deon Fourie (capt); De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth; Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Frans Malherbe, Brok Harris, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Jean de Villiers.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant Referees: Jason Jaftha, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Absa Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:

MTN Golden Lions vs GWK Griquas
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Time: 15h00
Date: 12 October 2013

Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Time: 17h05
Date: 12 October 2013

The Sharks vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park
Time: 19h10
Date: 12 October 2013

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