The Cell C Sharks will have their sights set on cementing the top spot on the Currie Cup Premier Division log this weekend in what will be a decisive round for all six sides in action, with only two pool rounds remaining after this weekend.
The Cell C Sharks, Tafel Lager Griquas and Steval Pumas have only two matches left to seal their fate in the competition – sponsored by DirectAxis and Nashua – while the other four teams still have three matches to play.
While the Mpumalanga side have a bye this week and the KwaZulu-Natalians boast a comfortable 13 point cushion at the top of the table, their Kimberley counterparts find themselves in a tough position as they could drop out of the race even if they win both their remaining matches with bonus points.
In Durban, the Cell C Sharks will be hunting their 10th victory in a row when they host the Xerox Golden Lions, who come off three successive wins. They may, however, have to work hard for a win as the visitors will be equally determined to register a victory to remain in the top four on the standings.
The coastal side won the last outing between the sides in Johannesburg, but the Xerox Golden Lions won their four match-ups prior to that.
The Cell C Sharks made two changes to their team, with hooker Franco Marais replacing Chiliboy Ralepelle, who is on Springbok duty, and centre Tristan Blewett takes over from the injured Jeremy Ward, while the Xerox Golden Lions made three personnel changes, which sees lock Rhyno Herbst, No 8 Fabian Booysen and winger Aphiwe Dyanti start.
Tafel Lager Griquas will be determined to bounce back from five consecutive defeats when they host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley on Saturday, while the visitors will look to build on their win last week to remain in second place on the log.
Interestingly, the hosts’ last victory in the tournament was against their neighbours from Bloemfontein, but the Toyota Free State Cheetahs will draw inspiration from the fact that have only suffered two defeats against Tafel Lager Griquas since 2011.
The Tafel Lager Griquas team shows 10 personnel changes, six of which are among the forwards, while captain and fullback AJ Coertzen makes a welcome return among the backs. The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, in turn, named the same side that pipped the Steval Pumas last week.
The clash between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province in Pretoria on Sunday will be equally entertaining as the hosts are under pressure to win their remaining matches after back-to-back defeats, while the visitors will want to build on their 55-point haul last week and remain in the top three on the standings.
The Capetonians won the last match between the sides, but the Vodacom Blue Bulls won three of their last four matches at Loftus Versfeld, which they will want to build on. The clash will be particularly significant for Vodacom Blue Bulls hooker Edgar Marutlulle and flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, both of whom will earn their 50th Currie Cup caps.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls have named a new loose trio for the clash featuring Marco van Staden, Tim Agaba and Nic de Jager. DHL WP coach John Dobson will announce his side on Friday.
Currie Cup Round 12 fixtures:
Friday, 29 September
Cell C Sharks v Xerox Golden Lions
Cell C Sharks – Garth April, Odwa Ndungane, Tristan Blewett, Marius Louw, S’bu Nkosi, Curwin Bosch, Michael Claassens, Daniel du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Botha (Captain), Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Juan Schoeman, Jean Droste, Tera Mtembu, Cameron Wright, Inny Radebe, Rhyno Smith.
Xerox Golden Lions – Jaco van der Walt, Sylvian Mahuza, Harold Vorster, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Ashlon Davids, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Fabian Booysen, Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Rhyno Herbst, Jacobie Adriaanse, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen (capt). Replacements: Sti Sithole, Pieter Jansen, Johannes Jonker, Robert Kruger, Len Massyn, Bradley Thain, Anthony Volmink / Stokkies Hanekom.
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Archie Sehlako & Vusi Msibi
TMO: Christie du Preez
Saturday, 30 September
Tafel Lager Griquas v Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Tafel Lager Griquas – AJ Coertzen (capt), Kyle Steyn, Tertius Kruger, Johnathan Francke, Enver Brandt, George Whitehead, Christiaan Meyer, Conway Pretorius, Sias Koen, Wendal Wehr, FP Pelser, Sintu Manjezi, Stephan Kotze, AJ Le Roux, Liam Hendricks. Replacements: Marius Fourie, Louwrens Strydom, Wandile Putuma, Shaun McDonald, DeWet Kruger, Renier Botha, Andre Swarts.
Toyota Free State – Clayton Blommetjies, Vuyani Maqina, Ali Mgijima, Lloyd Greeff, Cecil Afrika, Robbie Petzer, Zee Mkhabela, Jasper Wiese, Chris Dry (capt), Daniel Maartens, Carl Wegner, Dennis Visser, Erich de Jager, Joseph Dweba, Gert Kotze. Replacements: Reinach Venter, Andrew Kuhn, Jeremy Jordaan, Nicolaas Immelman, JP Smith, Stephan Janse van Rensburg, JW Jonker.
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Mpho Matsaung & Griffin Colby
TMO: JJ Wagner
Sunday, 1 October
Vodacom Blue Bulls v DHL Western Province
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Burger Odendaal (capt), JT Jackson, Johnny Kotze, Marnitz Boshoff, Ivan van Zyl, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements:Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Jano Venter, Boom Prinsloo, Piet van Zyl, Tony Jantjies, Ulrich Beyers.
DHL Western Province – TBA
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Jaco Pretorius & Egon Seconds
TMO: Pro Legoete