Gripping Absa Currie Cup final expected

Oct 23 • General News • 2252 Views • Comments Off on Gripping Absa Currie Cup final expected

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Photo: Anton Geyser

#1891Man: In an era before major stadium construction, fan seating at Newlands Rugby Stadium was made up of basic wooden benches. The first official match played at Newlands was on Saturday 31 May 1890 between Villagers and Stellenbosch. The ground, which was formerly part of the Mariendahl Estate, was purchased in 1894 for £2 500. The first seating – a modest iron stand – was purchased from the Western Province Cricket Club for £40, seating 450 people.

The Absa Currie Cup competition will reach a thrilling conclusion on Saturday as DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions do battle for the title as champions and the R1,897m winner’s cheque. The runner’s up will walk away with R1,26m.

The last time the teams crossed paths in the final of the world’s oldest rugby competition was in 1986 in Cape Town, while they have only met in the final four times since 1939. Three of these finals were in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg and each team won two, with the biggest winning margin being 13 points.

While a victory would be equally rewarding for either team, DHL Western Province will place a big emphasis on claiming the title as the last time they won a home final was in 2001, while they will also want to celebrate their captain Juan de Jongh’s 50th cap in style.

Given the small margins between the sides on attack and defence this season, this final could follow a similar pattern to their previous finals. The Xerox Golden Lions scored 44 tries and conceded 21 in the pool stages of the competition, while DHL Western Province scored 40 tries and conceded 23. With these sides boasting the best attack in the competition, the challenge will be for them to continue displaying the entertaining attacking rugby which has kept them above the chasing pack throughout the season, rather than adopting the cautious approach associated with finals rugby.

Interestingly, the Cape side has won nine of the last 10 match-ups between the sides at home. This impressive track-record included their 27-14 victory against the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands in the pool stages this season. But the visitors pipped DHL Western Province 35-33 in the return match in Johannesburg.

The Xerox Golden Lions, however, come off a morale-boosting 50-20 victory against the Cell C Sharks in the semifinal, and will back themselves to put up a brave fight for the trophy regardless of their disappointing track record in Cape Town.

DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee made only one change to his starting team for the final with centre Jaco Taute returning from injury to reclaim his place in the midfield. His inclusion forced Michael van der Spuy to the bench. Van der Spuy joins lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who was included among the replacements at the expense of prop Oli Kebble.

Xerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann pinned his hopes of their first Absa Currie Cup victory since 2011 on the same players who guided them to a final berth, with the only change in the match-22 being among the replacements where prop Jacques van Rooyen comes replaces flank Kwagga Smith.

In the Absa Under-21 A Division final DHL Western Province will be hunting back-to-back titles when they line up against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a repeat of last year’s final at DHL Newlands. The match will also mark the third successive Absa Under-21 A Division final between the teams. Both sides have had impressive seasons, which included scoring over 80 tries in their 12 round-robin matches, but the Vodacom Blue Bulls defence proved to be more effective. In their last outing at DHL Newlands the home team registered a 28-21 victory, and this match is expected to be equally hard-fought.

In the Absa Under-19 A Division final DHL Western Province will also look to make the most of their home ground advantage against the Vodacom Blue Bulls. The Cape side finished the pool stages of the competition in third position, but defeated the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their semifinal in Bloemfontein last week, which earned them a final berth against the log-leaders. With both sides boasting nine victories in the league stages and each side having won their respective home matches against each other in the league stages this season, it could be an epic encounter.

Absa Currie Cup Final teams:

DHL Western Province: Cheslin Kolbe; Kobus van Wyk, Juan de Jongh (capt), Jaco Taute, Seabelo Senatla; Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom; Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Rynhardt Elstadt; Manuel Carizza, Jean Kleyn; Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni, Alistair Vermaak. Replacements: Neil Rautenbach, Brok Harris, Gerbrandt Grobler, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Michael van der Spuy.

Xerox Golden Lions: Jaco van der Walt; Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan; Marnitz Boshoff, Ross Cronje; Warren Whiteley (capt), Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel; Franco Mostert, Martin Muller; Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen, Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Britz, Warwick Tecklenburg, Mark Richards, Harold Vorster.

Fixtures:

Absa Currie Cup Final: DHL Western Province vs Xerox Golden Lions
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Time: 17h00
Date: Saturday, 25 October
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper and Pro Legoete
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

Absa Under-21 A Division final: DHL Western Province vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Date: Saturday, 25 October
Time: 14h00
Referee: Pro Legoete
Assistant Referees: Rodney Boneparte and Ben Crouse
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

Absa Under-19 final A Division: DHL Western Province vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Date: Saturday, 25 October
Time: 12h15
Referee: Rodney Boneparte
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman and Ben Crouse
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

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