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Long-serving Cell C Sharks stalwart, Odwa Ndungane, will play in his 100th Currie Cup match for his side this weekend as they take on the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg in one of three exciting clashes that promises to thrill local rugby supporters.
Ndungane, who made his Currie Cup debut for Border in 2001 and played for them in 27 matches, also represented the Vodacom Blue Bulls twice, making the match at Emirates Airline Park the 129th Currie Cup encounter of his career.
The Currie Cup – proudly sponsored by DirectAxis and Nashua – has not only established a firm grip on the interest of the South African rugby public after four weeks of action, it is also producing top class action and drama with a number of teams learning the hard way that consistency in performance is key to success in South Africa’s premier domestic competition.
To add to the competitiveness and drama of this longstanding tournament, a short turn-around will further test teams this weekend, as a full round of matches was played on Wednesday.Saturday will see the DHL Western Province hosting their traditional foes from Pretoria, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, the central heartland will be split in two as Tafel Lager Griquas travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the Xerox Golden Lions will be looking to spoil Ndungane’s day.
In the early game in Bloemfontein on Saturday, the defending champions can expect a confident neighbour to knock on his door. Tafel Lager Griquas showed true grit and determination in lowering the flags of DHL WP on Wednesday and this win, their first in the competition, could be just the start of a very strong campaign.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, with three wins out of three, have not shown any weaknesses though and will be a tough team to beat at home. Coach Rory Duncan made four changes to the side that won in Nelspruit on Wednesday and tweaked his bench as well. Charles Marais comes in for Ox Nche, Armandt Koster takes over from Justin Basson at lock, JW Jonker will be replacing William Small-Smith and Ryno Eksteen will take over the pivot role from injured Niel Marais. On the bench, Chris Dry (replacing Junior Pokomela) and Sergeal Petersen, will be keen to show their attacking skills.
Meanwhile, John Dobson, DHL WP coach, made a number of changes to the side that came up short in Kimberley. Huw Jones and Scarra Ntubeni are both starting, with the hooker playing in his 50th Currie Cup match for the home side. Jano Vermaak and Damian Willemse will be the starting halfback combination and Jaco Coetzee will start at flank.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls will be smarting after their defeat at home on Wednesday and coach Nollis Marais will be keen to see the progress of the team, especially on attack, being continued, despite their poor record at DHL Newlands in recent years.
The match at DHL Newlands will also be Stuart Berry’s 50th Currie Cup encounter as referee. Berry, who also has seven Test matches under the belt, handled his first Currie Cup match in 2007.
The Xerox Golden Lions have a new coach in Swys de Bruin, who amongst others, appointed former Springbok captain, Victor Matfield, as part of his coaching staff.
De Bruin rested a number of players who played in last weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby final against the Crusaders in Johannesburg, but still named a very competitive team that will face the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park in the final match of the weekend. Rohan Janse van Rensburg is back at centre, while Madosh Tambwe will be keen to establish himself on the wing for the rest of the campaign.
Cell C Sharks coach, Robert du Preez, opted to stay in Gauteng following their match in Pretoria on Wednesday and the side should be well prepared for the clash. The coach will finalise his replacements later, but opted to for Benhard Janse van Rensburg at flyhalf, with Inny Radebe moving to the bench.
Amongst those on the Cell C Sharks bench is Akker van der Merwe, who last weekend still played for the Emirates Lions in the Vodacom Super Rugby final.
• The Currie Cup also supports the Women’s Month campaign and supporters are requested to contribute by bringing along female sanitary products to all three matches, which will be distributed to disadvantaged women through Caring4Girls. Donation boxes will be placed at all entrance gates.
Furthermore, there will be free entry to every women at the match in Bloemfontein between the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Tafel Lager Griquas.
Currie Cup Round 5 teams and matches:
Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs Tafel Lager Griquas
Toyota Free State Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Rosko Specman, JW Jonker, Ryno Benjamin, Makazole Mapimpi, Ryno Eksteen, Shaun Venter, Jasper Wiese, Henco Venter, Niell Jordaan (captain), Reniel Hugo, Armandt Koster, Aranos Coetzee, Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais. Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche, Rynier Bernardo, Chris Dry, Zee Mkhabela, Sergeal Petersen, Malcolm Jaer.
Tafel Lager Griquas: TBA
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Quinton Immelman
DHL Western Province vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
DHL Western Province: SP Marais, Seabelo Senatla, EW Viljoen, Huw Jones, Bjorn Basson, Damian Willemse, Jano Vermaak, Nizaam Carr, Kobus van Dyk, Jaco Coetzee, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl (captain), Wilco Louw, Scarra Ntubeni, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Ramone Samuels, Michael Kumbirai, Eddie Zandberg, Steph de Wit, Justin Phillips, Kurt Coleman, Dan Kriel.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: TBA
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Stuart Berry
Xerox Golden Lions vs Cell C Sharks
Xerox Golden Lions: Sylvian Mahuza, Madosh Tambwe, Jacques Nel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Anthony Volmink, Jaco van der Walt, Dillon Smit, Ryan Kankowski (captain), Fabian Booysen, Cyle Brink, Marvin Orie, Robert Kruger, Johannes Jonker, Robbie Coetzee, Corné Fourie. Replacements: Michael Willemse, Sti Sithole, Bobby de Wee, Hacjivah Dayimani, Marco Janse van Vuren, Siya Masuku, Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Cell C Sharks: Garth April, Odwa Ndungane, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, Sbu Nkosi, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Botha (captain), Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit. Replacements (from): Akker van der Merwe, Inny Radebe, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Jean Droste, Louis Schreuder, Michael Claassens, Mzamo Majola, Wian Vosloo.
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Egon Seconds