The Currie Cup Premier Division will dish up loads of action this weekend as the Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province meet in a repeat of last year’s Final on Friday, while the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State Cheetahs go head-to-head in a table-topping clash on Saturday.
These matches in the Currie Cup – brought to you by Nashua and DirectAxis – will take centre stage in what is expected to be a thrilling round, which could see a few changes on the log standings as the final stages draw closer.
The Currie Cup First Division also features a repeat of the 2015 Final between the Leopards and SWD in Potchefstroom on Saturday, while this weekend will mark the Leopards and Down Touch Griffons final round of pool matches.
Currie Cup Premier Division
Griquas and Boland will meet at Griqua Park in Kimberley on Thursday evening in what will mark their first Currie Cup Premier Division match since 2009.
The teams have met three times since then in the Currie Cup Qualifying competitions, and Griquas won all three of those matches. While Griquas will be hunting their third successive win in the tournament and their seventh win in a row against Boland, the visitors will have their sights set on their first win against Griquas since 2005 to build on their victory against the Steval Pumas last week.
The clash between the Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province at Emirates Airline Park is expected to be thrilling. The home team have gone down to their Cape rivals only once in Johannesburg since 2012, which is expected to inspire them to return to their winning ways after their defeat against the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
DHL Western Province, however, come off a morale-boosting victory against the Cell C Sharks, which ended the Durbanites’ unbeaten run, and they will be aware of the fact that another big scalp could boost their campaign and catapult them into the top four on the log table despite a disappointing start to the season.
The Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State Cheetahs will meet in a table-topping clash at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday in what is expected to be an epic battle. The Free Staters are the only unbeaten team in the series, while the Cell C Sharks will look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season last week.
The hosts have not suffered a defeat against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup Premier Division since 2011, while their last home defeat against the opposition was back in 2009. Interestingly, their last two Currie Cup matches ended in draws. The Bloemfontein outfit, however, won the Currie Cup Qualifier earlier this season 19-13.
In the final match of the weekend, the Steval Pumas will go flat out to register their first victory of the season when they line up against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The men from Pretoria have been dominant against the Steval Pumas over the years, with their track record showing only two defeats against the Lowvelders in the Currie Cup Premier Division since 1997 – in 2010 and 2001 respectively.
But earlier this year the Steval Pumas emerged 25-13 victors in the Currie Cup Qualifier, and if they are going to repeat that victory, they will have to deliver a solid performance against the Vodacom Blue Bulls who have registered confidence-boosting victories against the Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province this season.
Currie Cup First Division
At the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Friday, Border will be hunting their third successive victory when they meet the Hino Valke, while the hosts will be determined to bounce back from their defeat against the Leopards last week.
The Valke have won all their home matches against Border since the 2009 season, but the East London side will enter the match with confidence as they come off victories against the Down Touch Griffons and Windhoek Draught Welwitschias, while they also defeated the Valke 29-24 in the Currie Cup Qualifiers.
The clash between the Leopards and SWD Eagles in Potchefstroom will mark a repeat of last year’s Currie Cup First Division Final, which the Leopards won 44-20. The hosts have won all four of their matches so far this season, while they will draw confidence from the fact that they have been dominant against SWD recently, with the side winning four of their last six Currie Cup matches.
However, SWD edged the Leopards 26-21 in the Currie Cup Qualifiers, which will motivate them as they look to recover from back-to-back defeats. A victory for the Leopards would seal their spot at the top of the log table, which will guarantee them a home Semi-final and place them in pole position for a home Final.
In Welkom, the Griffons will look to repeat the performance that earned them a 101-0 victory against the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in the Currie Cup Qualifiers when the teams meet at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium on Saturday. The visitors, however, challenged them in the Vodacom Cup competition last season, going down only 32-28, which will inspire them to deliver a solid performance.
The Namibians have yet to win a match this season, while the Down Touch Griffons come off back-to-back defeats against Border and the Leopards respectively, which has set the scene for an exciting match.
A victory for the Down Touch Griffons will keep them in the hunt for a semi-final berth, although they will have to wait until the final pool round next weekend to know their fate, while a defeat could dent these aspirations.
- In the last six outings between Griquas and Boland, the lowest score recorded by Griquas was 21 points and the highest score 80 points, while Boland’s lowest score was three points and highest, 23 points.
- The Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province have been involved in tight clashes in the last few seasons, with the winning margin in three of their last five matches being three points or less.
- Penalty goals have been an important source of points for the Cell C Sharks in their last three Currie Cup Premier Division matches against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. They kicked a total of 11 penalty goals in these matches, to only six by the Free Staters.
- The clash between the Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls will mark only the fourth match between the sides at the Mbombela Stadium. In two of their three previous matches at the ground the Blue Bulls won by only one and four points respectively.
- Border fullback Masixole Banda, who was a key figure in the team’s victory against the Down Touch Griffons last week, was equally influential in the clash against the Hino Valke in the Currie Cup Qualifiers. He scored two tries and kicked two conversions and a penalty goal in the match, accounting for 17 of his team’s points.
- The Leopards have registered bonus-point victories in all of their matches so far this season and boast 24 tries in four matches, however, they have conceded 18 tries – seven more than SWD, who have only played three matches this season.
- Hat-tricks were scored in the last two matches between the Down Touch Griffons and Windhoek Draught Welwitschias. Down Touch Griffons winger Warren Williams scored three tries in the Currie Cup Qualifier, while Windhoek Draught Welwitschias fullback Justin Nel crossed the chalk three times in their Vodacom Cup clash last season.
Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:
Thursday, 8 September:
Griquas vs Boland
Venue: Griqua Park, Kimberley
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Prediction: Griquas by 11.
Friday, 9 September:
Xerox Golden Lions vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Prediction: Xerox Golden Lions by three.
Saturday, 10 September:
Cell C Sharks vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Prediction: Cell C Sharks by five.
Steval Pumas vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Stuart Berry
Prediction: Vodacom Blue Bulls by 10.
Currie Cup First Division:
Friday, 9 September:
Hino Valke vs Border
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Saturday, 10 September:
Leopards vs SWD
Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Down Touch Griffons v Windhoek Draught Welwitschias
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Quinton Immelman