Bosch back at fullback for Sharks, Boks bolster Golden Lions

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The 126th anniversary of the first staging of the Currie Cup competition winds towards a climax as four teams go head to head in this year’s semi-finals, with the Cell C Sharks hosting the Xerox Golden Lions at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday.

After finishing second on the overall log, the Cell C Sharks earned the honour of a home semi-final where they host the Golden Lions who finished in third spot on the log. Eventual log leaders, Western Province, will host the Blue Bulls in the second semi-final.

Since the inaugural season in 1892, seven teams have won the competition, with the Cell C Sharks taking the title seven times, the most recent, a 2013 victory over Western Province in Cape Town.

Steeped in tradition, the Currie Cup has a proud history. In recent times, the Cell C Sharks have been prolific winners, having taken the title seven times since that historic 18-12 win over Northern Transvaal (now the Blue Bulls) in 1990.

Interestingly, the Bulls have also won the title seven times since that year, sharing it once with Free State. Western Province with six and the Lions with five trail behind. Free State, with three titles (one shared) are the fifth team to have won titles over the last 27 years.

But all that history is behind us as the Cell C Sharks prepare for a Golden Lions side that last left Durban off the back of a 37-21 defeat at Jonsson Kings Park. Almost a month (to the day) later, the Lions return for a mouth-watering semi-final fixture.

Head coach Robert du Preez has stuck largely with the side he named last week. After being named to start against Griquas but then pulling out late, Thomas du Toit and Daniel du Preez return in the tighthead prop and eighthman positions respectively.

Marius Louw is back at inside centre and Robert du Preez returns to the flyhalf position, with Curwin Bosch reverting back to fullback.

The Lions lost just two matches of their six fixtures, to the Cell C Sharks and a week earlier, going down 65-38 to Western Province in Cape Town.

They however welcome back Springboks Elton Jantjies, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Warren Whiteley and will look back at that result as a speed wobble rather than a catastrophic event.

All in all which makes for an enticing encounter between two great sides.

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Luke Stringer, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Leolin Zas, 23 Aphelele Fassi.

Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom (captain), 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Jo-Hanko de Villiers, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan van der Merwe, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Chergin Fillies, 19 Vincent Tshituka, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Wandisile Simelane

Date: Saturday, October 20
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 14.30
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Christie du Preez

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