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Weekend Rugby Impressions – 18/19 October

October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

This weekend there will be three important rugby events in South Africa – WP will defend their Currie Cup title against the Sharks at Newlands, Griquas will try to stay in the top domestic competition after a lucky win at home against the Pumas and Heyneke Meyer will announce his EOYT Bok squad.

For the rest, the teams are taking a bit of a break until mid November before starting on their Super Rugby preparations for the 2014 season that kicks off mid-February.

WP vs Golden Lions:

With Gio Aplon and Cheslin Kolbe more elusive than two Cape pickpockets and the Lions attack breaking against the Stormers … um … WP defence like waves against the harbour wall Province recorded a comfortable win to take them through to the final of the Currie Cup.

Barring injuries the Stormers look to be in a good place for next year’s Super Rugby while the Lions have four months to get their bunch of no names ready to make another step up in the world of professional rugby.

Match Review: WP vs Golden Lions Semi Final: A bridge too far

Sharks vs Cheetahs:

The Sharks may not be firing on all cylinders but the Cheetahs spluttered along like they have the whole season. Lambie had his best game since the 2010 Currie Cup final while Frans Steyn, for all his size, was only invisible during the half time interview. Bizzie did his normal thuggy thing which may see the Sharks without their whole Bok front row for the final.

Meanwhile the Cheetahs will be cheering for Griquas in the promo game against the Pumas, hoping they can keep the Griquas players from deserting their Super Rugby franchise partner.

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Vodacom Cup Semi Finals Preview

May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Vodacom Cup has reached the business end of the competition with the Golden Lions taking on WP in Johannesburg and the Pumas playing the EP Kings in Nelspruit. For the Lions the opportunity to play “match play” games benefits their preparations for the Wooden Spoon knock outs at the end of July but to get full value they need to progress to the final and win that too.

Vodacom Cup Semi Final

Saturday, May 11 2013
Golden Lions vs WP – Ellis Park, Johannesburg: 14:15

Although not anywhere near their potential Super Rugby team the Lions will field a very experienced match 22 against a very young WP side. Last week’s match 22 for WP had an average age is 22.50 with only seven of their players over 22 with just over 373 senior caps and seven Super Rugby caps to their credit compared to a Lions team averaging 24 years and with nearly 850 senior caps, of which 140+ are for Super Rugby.

Add to this that WP have lost their striker Cheslin Kolbe to the Baby Boks, had to replace an injured Rohan Kitshoff with Helmut Lehmann and are playing Tim Swiel at fullback, much to the disgust of some Swiel fans.

But in this apparent mismatch lies the danger. If the Lions aren’t careful and if they go into this game overconfident of success these youngsters could very well upset the apple cart. The Golden Lions team should have just too much talent and experience for this WP team but they need to take the game seriously and go out to win convincingly.

WP has scraped through a number of close matches during the round robin stages as well as in the quarter final against Griquas and can tough it out, if the Lions think they can play festival rugby on the day they could live to regret it. We saw last week how quickly a comfortable lead can disappear and the game be lost when the EP Kings beat the Blue Bulls after being 13-31 behind.

LIONS to beat Western Province by 20

Golden Lions: 15 Chryzander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Reserves: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronjé, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 Lionel Cronjé.

15. Tim Swiel, 14. Pat Howard, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Mike van der Spuy, 11. Devon Williams, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Bolla Conradie (captain), 8. Rayn Smid, 7. Graham Knoop, 6. Helmut Lehmann, 5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Gerbrandt Grobler (vice-captain), 3. Chris Heiberg, 2. Stephan Coetzee, 1. Ashley Wells
Reserves: 16. Jody Reyneke, 17. Tjoppie Ferreira, 18. Taz Fuzani, 19. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20. Godlen Masimla, 21. Kobus van Wyk, 22. Dillyn Leyds

Pumas vs EP Kings – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit: 16:30

The Pumas remains one of the better sides of the smaller unions and they have the advantage that they play at full strength as they do not lose players to a Super Rugby team. The EP Kings, on the other hand, had to release a number of players to the Southern Kings, some due to injuries of key players, other due to rotation. It is puzzling, however, that the fit players released from the Southern Kings wasn’t taken up in the EP Kings team and that most of the replacements were a number of 19, 20 and 21 year olds. As it is the rather young and inexperienced EP Kings side stand little chance against a Pumas side full of “hardebaard” experience.

Could it be that the EP Kings would rather not face the Lions in a final and lose in PE, as would be the case if they both win? A loss in PE against the Lions might send a negative message to both their supporters and their players and they would rather not risk that?

PUMAS to beat Eastern Province Kings by 9

Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Speckman, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Eduan van der Walt, 4 Uzair Cassiem, 3 Ivann Espag, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements:
16 Jacques Momberg, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 19 Marius Coetzer, 20 RW Kember, 21 Jerome Pretorius, 22 Dewald Pretorius

Kings: 15 Kayle van Zyl, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Wayne Stevens, 12 Tiger Mangweni, 11 Brian Skosana, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Scott Mathie, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Mpho Mbioyzo (c), 6 Tomas Leonardi, 5 Darron Nell, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 KP du Plessis, 2 Boetie Britz, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Dane van der Westhuyzen, 17 Brendan Olivier, 18 Samora Fihlani, 19 Dalton Davis, 20 Dwayne Kelly, 21 Marlou van Niekerk, 22 Lonwabo Ntleki.

http://lionspride.co.za/vodacom-cup-semi-finals-preview

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Friday Snippets – 19 Oct 2012

October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Did you hear that thieves broke into the Western Province trophy room last night?
Police are appealing for information on the whereabouts of a glass cabinet and a carpet.

All eyes are on the knock out games this weekend when the FS Cheetahs face the EP Kings, the Sharks host the Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions play WP, so let’s start there.

FS Cheetahs vs EP Kings:

Most people expect the Cheetahs to comfortably dispatch the Kings tonight but they should beware, the Kings beat the Free State in the Vodacom Cup and while a full strength and on form Cheetahs team should have no problems beating the Kings that is not the case for a team decimated by injuries and in poor form. Don’t be surprised if the Kings take the first play off match.

A Cheetahs supporter will be in Bloem for the weekend and have nothing better to do so he thought he’d go and support his team against the Kings and phones the stadium. “Is there still some space?” he asks.
“Yes”, came the reply, “what position do you play?”

Sharks vs Blue Bulls:

The Sharks are playing most of their Boks off the bench and this may just cost them against a full strength Blue Bulls side. Playing catch up rugby is the last thing they want and Plumtree’s gamble may backfire.

Albert Einstein arrives at a party and introduces himself to the first person he sees and asks, “What is your IQ?” to which the man answers “241.”

“That’s wonderful!,” says Albert. “We will talk about the Grand Unification Theory and the mysteries of the Universe. We will have much to discuss!”

Next Albert introduces himself to a woman and asks, “What is your IQ?” To which the lady answers, “144.”

“That is great!,” responds Albert. “We can discuss politics and current affairs. We will have much to discuss!”

Albert goes to another person and asks, “What is your IQ?” to which the man answers, “51.”

Albert responds, “So, what do you reckon happened to the Blue Bulls?”

Golden Lions vs WP:

I have already done my match preview in the previous post but the latest news is that Hollenbach is fit to start at #12 while CJ van der Linde will be on the bench with Pat Cilliers missing out this time. The Lions have two very good front rows and unfortunately not all of them can be in the match 22. Alwyn Hollenbach will play in his 100th first class game.

Some Province supporters die and go to hell. The devil notices that they’re quite happy, and asks them why. They explain “After the lousy weather in Cape Town, we actually enjoy the warmth.”

The devil thinks “I’ll fix them” and turns up the heat. He finds the them with their shirts off enjoying a snoek on the braai and having papsak “Whenever the weather gets this good in Cape Town, we can’t waste it, so this is what we do”

The devil decides to wipe the smile off their faces by turning the heat down to freezing. He returns to the province fans to find them celebrating.

“What now?” he asks.

One explains “Well, when hell freezes over, we’re sure to win the Currie Cup”

Divided loyalties?:

On Friday Andries Strauss will try and help the Cheetahs keep his new team, the Kings, in the lower division of the Currie Cup while three of the Lions (Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute and Michael Rhodes) will try to stop their new team for 2013 progress any further in the Currie Cup.

Baywatch retires:

By now this is old news already but hats off for a warrior who remained loyal through trying times. Cobus Grobbelaar played nearly 250 matches for the Lions from u/16 level up, and stuck with the union after the 2009 player revolt and mass defections, captained the Lions through their disasterous 2010 winless Super Rugby campaign and survived John Mitchell’s purge at the start of his tenure. Having won the Currie Cup with the Lions last year he will, hopefully, get another opportunity next weekend.

Ex-Lion Josh Strauss:

Josh Strauss scored his first try over the weekend for his new team, Glasgow Warriors, against the Northampton Saints and was awarded MOTM in his first Heineken Cup game. Unfortunately this was not enough to help his team win the match as they threw away a 15-0 lead to lose 24-15.

What do you do for a drowning WP rugby player?
Nothing. You could drag him to the top, but he’ll choke anyway

John Mitchell:

With his arbitration hearing still dragging on it seems Mitch is ready to take on the coaching job at the Sale Sharks. According reports he is spending some time at the club and attended their match against Cardiff Blues, he might travel to France with the squad for their match against Montpellier.

u/21 semi finals:

The u/21 semi finals this weekend feature the Sharks vs WP in Durban and the Blue Bulls vs the Cheetahs in Pretoria. The Lions just missed out to make it a clean sweep for the  four unions competing in the seniors and u/19 semi finals.

u/19 semi finals:

The u/19 semi finals feature the same teams as the seniors albeit with roles and home venues reversed . WP plays the Lions in Stellenbosch while the Blue Bulls plays the Sharks in Pretoria.

2012 National Amateur:

The Golden Lions (Northern Amateur champions) plays WP (Southern Amateur champions) at Coca Cola Park in the curtain raiser to the Currie Cup semi finals. Both teams have already played and won against Griquas (Central Amateur champions) and the match will decide the 2012 National Amateur champion.

Why did Naka Drotske go to a ball dressed as a pumpkin?
Because he hoped when the clock struck midnight he would turn into a coach

Varsity Cup Preparations:

Both UJ and Wits have recruited well in the off seaon in preparation for next year’s Varsity Cup, Wits’s first year in the top competition.

UJ recruited four of the Lions’ 2012 u/20 Boks in flyhalf Marais Schmidt, scrumhalf Vian van der Watt, eigthman Fabian Booysen and hooker Mark Pretorius. They have also signed national club champions College Rovers’ fullback, Kobus de Kock, who played Sharks age group rugby and played in Vodacom Cup for the Sharks in 2011.

Varsity Cup rookies Wits is also working hard at strengthening their team for the higher level competition, having been promoted from the Varsity Shield.

2011 Lions u/21 and UJ winger, Jacques Erasmus, 2010 Lions Craven Week and 2011 WP u/19 flyhalf Kazlo Holtzhauzen, 2011Lions u/21number eight Carel Greeff and current Lions u/21 prop Jacques Kotzé have all joined Wits together with 2012 Scotland u/20 scrumhalf Matt Torrance.

Having two universities in the Varsity Cup definitely benefit the Lions and help them retain some of their best young players.

An Durban schoolteacher explains to her class that she is a Sharks fan. She asks her students to raise their hands if they, too, are Sharks fans. Everyone in the class raises their hand expect one little girl.

The teacher looks at the girl with surprise and says, “Janie, why didn’t you raise your hand?” “Because I’m not a Sharks fan,” she replied. The teacher, still shocked, asked, “Well, if you are not a Sharks fan, then who are you a fan of?” “I am a Lions fan, and proud of it,” Janie replied. The teacher could not believe her ears. “Janie, why are you a Lions fan?” “Because my mum is a Lions fan, and my dad is a Lions fan, so I’m a Lions fan too!”

“Well,” said the teacher in an obviously annoyed tone, “That is no reason for you to be a Lions fan. You don’t have to be just like your parents all of the time. What if your mum were a moron and your dad were a moron, what would you be then?”

“Then,” Janie smiled, “I’d be a Sharks fan.”

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Currie Cup Semi Final – Golden Lions vs WP

October 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Baywatch Grobbelaar Benefit Match

The business end of the Currie Cup starts this weekend with the Golden Lions and WP featuring in the last semi final. In a replay of last year’s semi final the Super Rugby log leaders take on the Super Rugby wooden spooners with the hope of progressing to only their second Currie Cup final in 11 years.

The match will also serve as Cobus “Baywatch” Grobbelaar’s Benefit Match ahead of his retirement after playing nearly 250 matches for the Lions in its various guises from age group level through to Super Rugby.

For Western Province there is a lot riding on this game having last won the trophy in 2001 despite being one of the best and most consistent teams in South Africa in recent years. They pulled in all their available Boks last week but has had three ruled out with injuries since then.

The Lions have a lot riding on this game as well and it could be a very emotional crowd attending the game. Not only is it Baywatch’s farewell at Ellis Park (unless the Bulls and the Lions win this weekend) but it is also an opportunity to flip a finger at SARU if they could beat the Super Rugby log leaders at full strength.

Making 11 changes to the side that played the Bulls the Lions field one the strongest sides they have been able to field this year although a bit short on experience, especially the backline where only Hollenbach/Des Fountain and Bondesio are over 22. It is still uncertain whether Hollenbach will play and I hope he does. Hollenbach plays well off Jantjies and is good at straightening the backline to provide space for the outside backs.

Up front, however, the Lions field one of the strongest scrumming units in the country and they would feel confident that they can get enough ball from the set pieces to bring their talented young backs into the game. But the loosies will have to contend with the WP loosies, especially Deon Fourie and Duane Vermeulen, to ensure that possession is protected at the breakdowns.

In recent weeks the Lions have tended to be cavalier in their protection of the ball and had to play with minimal possession. If that’s the case again on Saturday it could very well cost them the match. They need to realise that they are into the knock out stages and that this is not the time to play festival rugby.

In the match ups:

Back three:

This is probably where the Lions are most vulnerable. Coetzee, Combrinck and Volminck are all only 22 and in their first year of senior rugby, let alone their first Currie Cup semi final. The Lions youngsters will have to be on form under the high ball because in Habana, van den Heever and Aplon WP has three excellent kick chasers and high ball players who will feed off any mistakes. On the other hand, the Lions back three can carve holes in most defences with ball in hand. An interesting contest awaits. Honours WP.

Midfield:

You couldn’t ask for more different styles of midfielders. WP’s Brache and de Jongh are two twinkle toes who love to create havoc amongst midfield defenders while the Lions midfield of Hollenbach/Des Fountain and Taute are more straight ball runners depending on strength and speed to get through gaps and provide a different test for opposition defenders. Added flavour to this contest is that de Jongh will probably be out to prove a point having sat on the bench behind Taute in the last two tests. This could work in the Lions favour though, as his known reluctence to pass the ball could get even worse, starving Habana, van de Heever and Aplon of any meaningfull possession. Honours even.

Halfbacks:

This is where the game could be won or lost. WP’s relatively inexperienced halfback pair of Groom and Catrakilis have a tough task ahead of them, especially if the Lions pack can spoil the quality of possession they get, facing a much more experienced pair in Bondesio and Jantjies. However, Groom and Catrakilis know each other very well having played together for Ikeys as well. I enjoy Groom’s game and have always felt the Stormers missed a trick in not using Catrakilis during Super Rugby. Add the goal kicking of Jantjies and Catrakilis, both very good when they are on form, and you have a real contest. Honours Lions.

Loosies:

The battle for loose ball possession is going to be epic and the contest between Deon Fourie and Baywatch will be interesting to watch. Fourie has settled into his roll at fetcher flank and Baywatch’s work rate is of the highest order. For the Lions Jaco Kriel has become a force, replacing the punch they lost with Josh Strauss, while Whiteley has taken to the responsibility of starting #8 but they face Duane Verleulen who had a very good run with the Boks and is in top form. We are not going to see the brute strength bash up play we see in some other games. You can watch this match just to enjoy the variety of skills these two loosie packs will put on display. Honours even.

Second row:

An old war horse, a journeyman and two exciting youngsters. Franco van der Merwe has long been underrated as a lineout specialist and should rule the lineouts, especially against a journeyman like de Kock Steenkamp, but with Michael Rhodes and Eben Etzebeth on the field we’re going to see some crunching runs and cleanouts and maybe some tempers flared. A yellow card for one or both is not out of the question. Honours Lions.

Front row:

The best front row in the competition against the youngest. Talented as they are the WP youngsters will know they have been in a contest. The Lions have perfected the eight man scrum and I expect the WP scrum to struggle in the contest. Honours Lions.

Overall:

The Lions should rule the scrums and lineouts, ruck and mauls will be about even and the Lions halfbacks should be too much for the WP youngsters. However, if Catrakilis can get his backline away and if his out of hand kicking is accurate the Lions backs could be in for a torrid time.

The Lions should take the match. Apart from two or three players the Lions just have too much power up front and since the WP’s real danger men are out wide I think the Lions will be able to limit their possession. But one shouldn’t underestimate WP’s quality defence and, of course, a Lions implosion like last week and all bets are off.

Lions by 9.

Golden Lions:

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach/Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).

Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 CJ van der Linde/Pat Cilliers, 18 Hendrik Roodt, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Butch James, 22 Deon Helberg.

Western Province:

15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Marcel Brache, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Don Armand, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16. Deon Carstens, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19. Jebb Sinclair, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Damian de Allende, 22. Joe Pietersen