The Cell C Sharks will look to stretch their Currie Cup winning streak to five matches on Saturday when they meet DHL Western Province in Cape Town in one of the main round seven Premier Division match-ups.
The KwaZulu-Natalians suffered a disappointing first-round defeat against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, but they have not looked back and have won four matches since – three of which have been convincingly.
They will, however, face a determined Capetonian outfit on their home ground, and with back-to-back wins in the bag, they will also enter the match with confidence and winning momentum.
In Friday’s match, the Steval Pumas host the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, while the Toyota Free State Cheetahs take on the Xerox Golden Lions in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
In Mpumalanga, the Steval Pumas will be determined to build on their victory Kimberley, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls will be desperate to bounce back from three consecutive defeats. The Pretoria side have won all five the Currie Cup matches between these teams since 2011, with four of their victories away from home.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls, who will be under the guidance of newly-appointed coach John Mitchell, will be led by No 8 Nic de Jager, in a team that shows four personnel changes to last week. Centre JT Jackson and prop Lizo Gqoboka will earn their first starts for the team, while Boom Prinsloo returns to the loose trio in the No 6 jersey.The Steval Pumas kept faith in the starting team that toppled Tafel Lager Griquas, however, there was one enforced change with flanker Thembelani Bholi replacing Chris Cloete, who could start on the bench as he is recovering from a bout of flu.
DHL Western Province will be hunting their third straight win when they meet the Cell C Sharks in Cape Town, but they will face a challenge from the KwaZulu-Natalians, who won their last four games. The fact that the visitors won three of the last five matches between the sides in the Mother City, which included the 2013 Currie Cup final, will boost their confidence.
The Cell C Sharks made six personnel changes to their team, two of which were injury enforced, which sees scrumhalf Louis Schreuder, winger Kobus van Dyk and fullback Inny Radebe earn starts, while former Junior Springbok captain and centre Jeremy Ward also returns.
DHL Western Province on the other made only two personnel changes, with scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage replacing Jano Vermaak, who joined the Springbok squad, while Ruhan Nel will start on the wing and Dillyn Leyds at fullback in the absence of the injured SP Marais.
In a first for the Currie Cup, fans at DHL Newlands will be captured on FANCAM, and will be able find and tag themselves on an interactive 360o image and share it with friends and family on their social media accounts. Fans who register on www.directaxis.fancam.com before the game will be notified when the image goes live. A virtual Currie Cup trophy will also be hidden on the image, and those who find it stand a chance to win a VIP trip to the Currie Cup final.
The clash between the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Xerox Golden Lions in Bloemfontein, meanwhile, will mark a repeat of last year’s Currie Cup semi-final, which the hosts won 55-17. The Gauteng outfit may have lost the last two matches against the defending champions at home, but they will draw inspiration from their success in the Free State in the past with wins in 2015, 2014 and 2012.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs made wholesale changes to their team, with three Springbok Sevens players included in the squad as Rosko Specman will start and Ryno Benjamin and Cecil Afrika will play off the bench.
The Xerox Golden Lions’ starting XV only features three new faces, with Ashlon Davids starting at flyhalf, while Sylvian Mahuza takes over on the right wing and James Venter will start in the No 6 jersey.
Currie Cup Premier Division round 7 fixtures:
Friday, 25 August:
Steval Pumas v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Steval Pumas – Gerrit Smith, JP Lewis, Jerome Pretorius, Hennie Skorbinski (capt), Ruwellyn Isbell, Justin van Staden, Stefan Ungerer, Francois Kleinhans, Lambert Groenewald, Thembelani Bholi, Hugo Kloppers, Stefan Willemse, Pieter Scholtz, Mark Pretorius Kwezi Mona. Replacements: Frank Herne, De-Jay Terblanche, Cameron Lindsay, Chris Cloete/Brian Shabangu, Willie Engelbrecht, Reynier van Rooyen, Kobus Marais.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Warrick Gelant, Jamba Ulengo, Dries Swanepoel, JT Jackson, Kefentse Mahlo, Tony Jantjies, Andre Warner, Nic de Jager (capt), Jannes Kirsten, Boom Prinsloo, Ruben van Heerden, Abongile Nonkontwana, Conraad van Vuuren, Jan-Henning Campher, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Edgar Marutllule, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Clyde Davids, Jano Venter, Piet van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Johnny Kotze.
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Paul Mente & Des van Wyk
TMO: Willie Vos
Saturday, 26 August
DHL Western Province v Cell C Sharks
DHL Western Province –Dillyn Leyds, Seabelo Senatla, EW Viljoen, Huw Jones, Ruhan Nel, Damian Willemse, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nizaam Carr, Cobus Wiese, Jaco Coetzee, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl (capt), Wilco Louw, Scarra Ntubeni, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Ramone Samuels, Michael Kumbirai, Eddie Zandberg, Steph de Wit, Justin Phillips, Rob du Preez, Dan Kriel.
Cell C Sharks – Inny Radebe, Kobus van Wyk, Jeremy Ward, Lukhanyo Am, S’bu Nkosi, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Louis Schreuder, Tera Mtembu, Tyler Paul, Jacques Vermeulen, Ruan Botha (capt), Jean Droste, Ross Geldenhuys, Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman. Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Wian Vosloo, Michael Claassens, Rhyno Smith, Odwa Ndungane.
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds & Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Xerox Golden Lions
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Sergeal Petersen, Rosko Specman, William Small-Smith, Ali Mgijima, Makazole Mapimpi, Robbie Petzer, Tian Meyer, Niell Jordaan (captain), Gerhard Olivier, Paul Schoeman, Reniel Hugo, Justin Basson, Aranos Coetzee, Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais. Replacements: Ox Nche, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Rynier Bernardo, Jasper Wiese, Zee Mkhabela, Ryno Benjamin, Cecil Afrika.
Xerox Golden Lions – Jaco van der Walt, Sylvian Mahuza, Harold Vorster, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Antony Volmink, Ashlon Davids, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Fabian Booysen, Cyle Brink, James Venter, Marvin Orie, Andries Ferreira, Jacques van Rooyen (capt), Robbie Coetzee, Corne Fourie. Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Jacobie Adriaanse, Rhyno Herbst, Hacjivah Dayimani, Bradley Thain, Stokkies Hanekom, Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Jaco Kotze & Darren Colby
TMO: Johan Greeff