The intensity of the Currie Cup Premier and First Division competitions is expected to rise this weekend as the teams at the top of the table look to extend their winning runs, while a handful of teams hunt their first victories.
In the Currie Cup Premier Division – brought to you by Nashua and DirectAxis – the Cell C Sharks will be looking to secure their fourth back-to-back victory, while DHL Western Province, the Steval Pumas and the EP Kings look to register their first victories of the season.
In the First Division, the Leopards will meet the Down Touch Griffons in a table-topping clash, which could see one of the sides suffer their first defeat of the season.
In stark contrast, Border and the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will meet in East London, which could pave the way for one of the sides to register their first win, while the Hino Valke will also have their sights set on their first four-point haul when they take on SWD.
Currie Cup Premier Division:The clash between the Xerox Golden Lions and Boland at Emirates Airline Park on Friday will be exciting as Boland will draw comfort from their 28-24 victory against the Johannesburg side in the Currie Cup Qualifiers despite last winning a Premier Division match against them in the 2000 season.
Spicing up the match, the hosts will be determined to bounce back from their defeat against Griquas last weekend, while Boland will give everything to register their first win in the Premier Division since 2009.
At the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, the Steval Pumas will be searching for their first victory in four matches against Griquas and their first win in the competition. But they will face tough competition as Griquas have scored over 30 points in the last three outings between the sides, while they also come off a morale-boosting victory against the defending champions.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth will host the EP Kings and DHL Western Province, both of whom are yet to win a match this season. The EP Kings, whose best result against their Cape counterparts was a draw in 1999, will enter the match with a new-found confidence after testing the Vodacom Blue Bulls last week in a match in which they scored five tries. They will, however, have to tighten up their defence as they will face a visiting team with everything to play for after letting themselves down in their first two matches.
In Durban, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will attempt to register their third successive victory against the Cell C Sharks after winning their last Currie Cup encounter and the Qualifier earlier this season.
Interestingly, the home team has been the best attacking team in the first three rounds with 16 tries and 120 points scored, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls are hot on their heels with 15 tries and 114 points. The Pretoria side, however, have leaked the most tries in the competition (15) so far, and will have to put their bodies on the line on defence on Saturday.
Currie Cup First Division:
The Down Touch Griffons and Leopards will meet in Potchefstroom in what could be an epic clash as both teams attempt to extend their unbeaten runs to three matches. The Leopards may have had a higher success rate in meetings between the sides in the last two seasons, but the Down Touch Griffons were emphatic 76-26 victors in the Currie Cup Qualifiers, which will bolster their confidence going into the clash. In their last two matches in Potchefstroom, however, the Leopards won 64-34 and 70-25 respectively.
The match between Border and the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will mark only the second time the teams meet. Their first meeting was in the Currie Cup Qualifiers earlier this year in which the East London side registered a 76-18 victory in Windhoek. Interestingly the Namibian side has scored eight tries in their first two matches to only four by Border, but their defence has let them down as they have conceded 16 tries, which is four times that which the East London side has leaked. Should they succeed at improving their defence, the clash could be tight.
The battle between the Hino Valke and SWD is expected to be gripping given the tight battles between the sides in the last three seasons. The Valke won four of their last six matches, with three of those victories being by five points or less. Adding to this, both teams come off defeats, which is expected to motivate them significantly.
· The Xerox Golden Lions registered over 50 points against Boland four times between 1998 and 2009. In the last Premier Division match between them, the Johannesburg side won 88-15, as Cobus Grobbelaar, Walter Venter and Springbok Willem Alberts each scored a brace of tries to account for six of the team’s 13 tries, while Herkie Kruger kicked eight conversions and a penalty goal for his 19 points.
· The Steval Pumas have won only two of their 13 matches against Griquas dating back to 2003, and these victories were in 2011 and 2014. They scored four tries in each of these games, while their superior goal-kicking pushed them ahead on the scoreboard.
· DHL Western Province have scored between 34 and 50 points in all but one of their last seven matches against the EP Kings. In their last three matches alone, the Cape side scored a total of 21 tries against them.
· The Vodacom Blue Bulls’ victory against the Cell C Sharks in Durban last season was the first time in 11 outings that they had defeated the KwaZulu-Natalians at home. The margins, however, have been close between the teams, with the biggest points difference in their last four matches being 11 points.
· Down Touch Griffons flyhalf George Whitehead was instrumental in their victory against the Leopards in the Currie Cup Qualifiers as he scored a hat-trick of tries and kicked nine conversions and a penalty for a personal total of 36 points.
· Border centre Makazole Mapimpi scored an impressive four tries against the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in their last match, while fullback Logan Basson slotted over seven conversions and scored a try, to steer the team to victory.
· Penalty goals have been instrumental in the result of the last two clashes between the Hino Valke and SWD Eagles. Karlo Aspeling kicked five penalties for the Hino Valke to tip the scoreboard in favour of his team in May, while three penalties by Leighton Eksteen secured the win for SWD last season.
Note: All the fixtures for the Currie Cup are available online, simply follow these links – Premier Division / First Division. Please note that these fixtures are subject to change.
Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:
Friday, 26 August
Xerox Golden Lions vs Boland
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Steval Pumas vs Griquas
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Stuart Berry
Saturday, 27 August
EP Kings vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Pro Legoete
Cell C Sharks vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Currie Cup First Division
Friday, 26 August
Leopards vs Down Touch Griffons
Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Rodney Boneparte
Border vs Windhoek Draught Welwitschias
Venue: BCM Stadium, East London
Referee: Egon Seconds
Saturday, 27 August
Hino Valke vs SWD
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Referee: Mpho Matsaung