Absa Currie Cup 2011 Preview – Week 14

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The Sharks

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 01, Lwazi Mvovo is tackled during the Absa Currie Cup match between the Sharks and DHL Western Province from Mr Price Kings Park on October 01, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.Photo by Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images

Three teams will fight it out this weekend for the final spot in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals, with DHL Western Province best placed to qualify for the playoffs.


The Vodacom Blue Bulls – at home against the Platinum Leopards – and GWK Griquas – away to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs – linger in fifth and sixth position on the log and have a mathematical chance of making it through to the semi-finals, but they don’t have their destiny in their own hands.


A bit higher on the log, The Sharks, who take on the first-placed MTN Golden Lions in Durban, and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are in a race to second position on the log.


Semi-final permutations:


Vodacom Blue Bulls – 35 log points; points’ difference: +13

The first semi-final contender to play this weekend, the Blue Bulls will know nothing less than a bonus-point victory over the Leopards will be good enough. And even then they still have to rely on the Pumas keeping WP from winning and scoring four tries on Saturday.


GWK Griquas – 35 log points; points’ difference: -34

A full house of five log points will be needed for Griquas, whose points’ difference is the worst of the three contenders for fourth spot, but then the Blue Bulls have to get less than that against the Leopards and WP can’t get more than three points against the Pumas.


Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 42 log points; points’ difference: +164

Currently third on the log, the Cheetahs can move up to second if they can beat Griquas with a bonus point and The Sharks don’t get a bonus-point victory over the Golden Lions.


DHL Western Province – 36 log points; points’ difference: +71

By the time the game at Newlands starts, WP will know exactly what they need to qualify for the playoffs, but irrespective of what has happened in the first two games of the weekend, a bonus-point victory over the Pumas will see WP through to the semi-finals.


The Sharks – 43 log points; points’ difference: +58

The Sharks will know what is expected of them to clinch second spot on the log by the time their game against the Golden Lions kicks off. They will need to match or better the amount of log points the Free State Cheetahs get against Griquas, but a bonus-point victory over the Golden Lions will be enough for The Sharks to secure second spot on the log.


MTN Golden Lions – 50 log points

The Golden Lions are assured of top spot on the log and will host a semi-final against the fourth-placed team in Johannesburg next weekend.


The Ford Pumas and Platinum Leopards can’t qualify for the semi-finals and will finish in seventh and eighth positions on the log irrespective of what happens this weekend.


Vodacom Blue Bulls vs Platinum Leopards


Play and wait seems to be the mantra for the Vodacom Blue Bulls this weekend as they open the final round of Absa Currie Cup league fixtures at Loftus Versfeld against the Platinum Leopards on Friday evening.


But even though they still have a small chance of reaching the semi-finals, they Blue Bulls will have to make sure they win this game before they can start hoping for a big favour from the Ford Pumas.


Pine Pienaar, coach of the Vodacom Blue Bulls, realises they can’t take anything for granted this weekend, not even a victory over the Leopards, who would like to finish their season on a high.


Had the Blue Bulls not lost against Griquas in Kimberley last weekend, they could have started the final round with their destiny still in their own hands.


“This coming weekend against Leopards we have to focus on ourselves. We are not in control with what happens with the Western Province and Puma game. It was the same principle we had against Griquas,” said Pienaar.


“We can only blame ourselves for the past weekend against Griquas. We did not do well, and conceded too many turnovers. That is the position we put ourselves in and again we have to focus on this weekend, our last game at home.”


Vodacom Blue Bulls vs Platinum Leopards

Date: Friday, 14 October

Kick-off: 19:10

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Stuart Berry

Last three games in Absa Currie Cup:

  • 6 August 2010: Blue Bulls won 43-38 in Pretoria
  • 25 September 2010: Blue Bulls won 39-26 in Potchefstroom
  • 26 August 2011: Blue Bulls won 28-20 in Phokeng


Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs GWK Griquas


The possibility of a home semi-final against pride and the slim chance of reaching the playoffs – that is what Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup derby between the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and GWK Griquas at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein is all about.


While both teams have aspirations – the Cheetahs to finish second and Griquas to sneak into fourth – neither of them have their destiny in their owns hands, which should make for an open and free flowing contest, as they will both be chasing a full house of five log points.


“Even though Griquas only have a very slim chance of making the semi-finals, they are still a very dangerous opponent, because it could see them throw the ball around even more. They never give up, like we saw last week when they fought back to beat the Blue Bulls,” said Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie.


“We also had a taste of their never-say-die attitude when we played them in Kimberley earlier in the season (and Griquas won 23-20). All we know is that we have to win and score a bonus point to stay in the hunt for a home semi-final. We will play against The Sharks, with the venue to be confirmed after their game against the Golden Lions.”


Contests between these two neighbouring provinces are always close affairs and Saturday’s game will in all likelihood be the same.


Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs GWK Griquas

Date: Saturday, 15 October

Kick-off: 15:00

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Marius Jonker

Last three games in Absa Currie Cup:

  • 16 July 2010: Free State Cheetahs won 33-26 in Bloemfontein
  • 3 September 2010: Free State Cheetahs won 33-28 in Kimberley
  • 27 August 2011: Griquas won 23-20 in Kimberley


DHL Western Province vs Ford Pumas


DHL Western Province have put last weekend’s disappointing defeat behind them and will be looking to secure their place in the Absa Currie Cup semi-finals with a strong performance against the Ford Pumas as DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.


WP will know exactly what is expected of them when they take to the field against the Pumas and with their playoff chances better than those of the Blue Bulls and Griquas, especially since the team from Cape Town will be buoyed by the return of a number of Springboks.


The return of six of his national players is something that WP coach Allister Coetzee is not frowning at, especially since WP have been decimated by injuries this season. He has selected Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana to start, with Schalk Burger and Jaque Fourie on the bench.


“Injuries have been a problem the whole year, but we have responded well to it. Our semi-final destiny is in our own hands, so now we just need to go out there and get the result that we need,” said Coetzee.


“The Boks bring an enormous amount to the team dynamic and our play. Griquas have given us another bite at the cherry and it’s an opportunity we don’t want to let slip, but it won’t be easy against the Pumas – they took the Cheetahs very close last week. They are very physical and clearly won’t be pushovers.”


DHL Western Province vs Ford Pumas

Date: Saturday, 15 October

Kick-off: 17:05

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Referee: Pro Legoete

Last three games in Absa Currie Cup:

  • 30 July: WP won 54-13 in Cape Town
  • 17 September: WP won 62-10 in Nelspruit
  • 26 August 2011: WP won 24-13 in Witbank


The Sharks vs MTN Golden Lions


The Sharks can secure a home semi-final is they can beat the Absa Currie Cup table-topping MTN Golden Lions at Mr Price Kings Park on Saturday in the final league match of the season. And how apt that it will be played by the two top teams in the competition.


As the Golden Lions have already qualified for a home semi-final – their first at Coca-Cola Park since 1999 – coach John Mitchell has decided to give a number of his players a break this weekend, while at the same time giving others some valuable game time ahead of the playoffs.


“It also gives other players the chance under match conditions, something which could be important in the play-offs if any of the regular players are injured. This is in no way an indication that we underestimate the Sharks,” said Mitchell.


John Plumtree, coach of The Sharks, explained that Mitchell’s team selections would not influence the way the Durbanites approached the game. They realise a full house of five log points would ensure an Absa Currie Cup semi-final at Mr Price Kings Park next weekend.


The prospect of bolstering his pack with a number of returning Springboks is very appealing to Plumtree, the Sharks coach admitted.


“Ultimately, we need to get on with our preparation this week. We’ve trained really well,” said Plumtree, who would be especially keen so see front rankers such as Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit, Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis back in action.


“We’ve struggled upfront all tournament, and no disrespect to the guys we’ve had, but the opposition had bigger men. This week, things can change for us in that department, and if not this week, then next,” said the Sharks coach.


The Sharks vs MTN Golden Lions

Date: Saturday, 15 October

Kick-off: 19:10

Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Jason Jaftha

Last three games in Absa Currie Cup:

  • 7 August 2010: Sharks won 48-19 in Durban
  • 25 September 2010: Golden Lions won 22-20 in Johannesburg
  • 27 August 2011: Golden Lions won 28-19 in Johannesburg

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