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Weekend Rugby Impressions – Currie Cup Final

October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Currie Cup has been won and with it South Africa’s domestic rugby season is something of the past until next year. Apart from the few players taking part in the Springbok EOYT the rest will take a well deserved break until Super Rugby pre-season training starts in mid November.

At the other end of the Currie Cup the Pumas pummeled Griquas to qualify for the Premier Division next year while Griquas are hoping for a boardroom decision to save them.

Western Province vs Sharks: Newlands, Cape Town

Well done to the Sharks, venerunt, viderunt, vicerunt while WP players, coaches and supporters will go looking for veritas in vino.

A key moment that set the tone for the match and WP’s loss was Charl McLeod’s interception when none of the WP speedsters van Heerden, Aplon or Kolbe even attempted to run him in a la Volmink, leaving it all to the slowest guy in the backline, de Allende.

One got the feeling that WP was just going through the motions, perhaps believe the pre-match press that they only needed to turn up to win, while the Sharks showed motivation and intent and outplayed their opponents in virtually every facet of the game.

A well deserved win for the Sharks.

A few standouts:

Pieter Steph du Toit: Deserved man of the match a young monster is maturing and a Bok combination of PSDT and Ysterbed in the not too distant future is something to look forward to.

Cheslin Kolbe: As elusive as a Cape Town pick pocket he can run circle around defenders. The problem is that he eventually runs into traffic and get caught. All flash and little substance he achieved very little on the day. He needs to mature before higher rewards can be considered.

Demitri Catrakilis: A tough day at the office where he primarily got poor ball from his forwards and poor service from his scrumhalf and were under pressure all the time. At least he slotted his kicks.

Pat Lambie: Looks like the Sharks’ blue eyed boy has returned to his pre-Heyneke Meyer game – a good flyhalf whose goal kicking is average to poor. Good for him.


Thank you to everyone who played in my Superbru and Fantasy League pools. With only the EOYT Superbru left it’s good bye to many of you until Super Rugby next year.

Congratulations to the winners and tough luck to Alasdair Fraser who came close in both the Superbru and Fantasy League

Superbru final top 10:

1: Maverick – 43.50
2: Witblitz – 41.00
3: Kitchener – 40.25
4: bighit – 39.92
5: O’Shauns 15 – 39.83
6: Pieta – 39.08
7: Smiley101 – 39.08
8: ALFraser – 38.75
9: Ratte – 37.25
10: Theok – 37.00

Fantasy League final top 10:

1: Gershwin Koen aka Cheating Cheetahs – Global: 33 – Sploggers: 2885
2: Marlon Dauphin aka Angostura – Global: 135 – Sploggers: 2808
3: Alasdair Fraser aka Sweet XV – Global: 203 – Sploggers: 2777
4: Carel Lotz aka Red Muse – Global: 277 – Sploggers: 2756
5: Marius Greyling aka Mnr Muis – Global: 295 – Sploggers: 2751
6: Wayne Amsterdam aka Greatness Inc. – Global: 424 – Sploggers: 2725
7: Radyn van Dewenter aka TEAM RVD – Global: 459 – Sploggers: 2719
8: Kallie Nel aka The Cutting Edge – Global: 539 – Sploggers: 2705
9: Riaan Aspeling aka a1s4s – Global: 1020 – Sploggers: 2641
9: willem le roux aka willem le roux – Global: 1020 – Sploggers: 2641

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2013 Currie Cup Preview – Round 1

August 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

Super Rugby is over and the Currie Cup Premier Division kicks off this weekend with the various teams looking at the Currie Cup to achieve different objectives. The Sharks have a good mix of experience and youth while the Blue Bulls and WP are looking to develop more of their youngsters, the Blue Bulls especially considering their investment in recent years in build a base with wome of the most ta;ented youngsters from around the country. The Golden Lions will look to build their squad for 2014 and the Cheetahs will want to consolidate on their successful Super Rugby campaign with the Griquas the odd one out, they want to beat the better teams and be in contension for the cup.

Fri, 09 August: Sharks v Griquas – SAST: 19h10

The Sharks will be missing a number of key players from their Super Rugby team when they take on Griquas in Durban but they will still be able to push a good side on the field. Griquas have some of their Super Rugby players back from the Cheetahs and their tight five looks solid but it’s at the back where they don’t offer too much to scare the Sharks.

The Sharks will miss their Bok front row and will have a new lock combination with Marco Wentzel joining them but their loosies are tried and trusted so too their scrumhalves but it’s at the back where there is a new and exciting look with Louis Ludik having shown he’s a good #13 in the making and Tim Whitehead back and the big issue will be whether they can get their new backline going.

Sharks by 9

The Sharks: 15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Sizo Maseko, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Butch James, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel (Captain) , 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Peet Marais, 19. Tera Mtembu, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Fred Zeilinga, 22. Jaco van Tonder

Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 JP Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Burger Schoeman, 7 Jaco Nepgen, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Jonathan Adendorf, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Rocco Jansen

Sat, 10 August: Golden Lions v FS Cheetahs – SAST: 15h00

With their Super Rugby status back in the bag the Golden Lions face their first hurdle in their effort to rebuild a team for next year when they face the Cheetahs at home. The Cheetahs may be without their Boks and without the Griquas Super Rugby players but they still have enough experienced players to make it very tough for the Lions.

The Lions will be without a number of players who played the Kings the last two weeks and especially the forwards have been affected. JC Janse van Rensburg (France), Hendrik Roodt (France), Franco van der Merwe (Boks, Warren Whiteley (finger), Robbie Coetzee (ribs), Julian Redelinghuys (thumb), Ross Cronje (hamstring) and Deon van Rensburg (leg) are all missing from their last game and they are down to their #4 scrumhalf, the converted flyhalf Guy Cronje, and short on props while the bulk of the Cheetahs starting 15 are coming from a successful Super Rugby campaign and they should not stumble against a depleted Lions team.

Cheetahs by 10
(Went for the Lions by 5 on Superbru but that was an illconsidered mistake)

Golden Lions: 15.Chrysander Botha, 14.Deon Helberg, 13.Stokkies Hanekom, 12.Dylan des Fountain, 11.Anthony Volmink, 10.Marnitz Boshoff, 9.Guy Cronje, 8.Willie Britz, 7.Warwick Tecklenburg, 6.Derick Minnie (c), 5.Hugo Kloppers, 4.Stephan Greeff, 3.Ruan Dreyer, 2.Martin Bezuidenhout, 1.Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16.Francois du Toit, 17.CJ van der Linde, 18.Lambert Groenewald, 19.Jaco Kriel, 20.Tian Meyer, 21.Elton Jantjies, 22.Lionel Cronje/Robert de Bruyn

Free State Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo (c), 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Teboho Mohoje, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Joubert Engelbrecht, 22 Piet Lindeque.

Sat, 10 August: Western Province v Blue Bulls – SAST: 17h05

Giving only Eben Etzebeth to the Boks in the forwards the WP forward pack should be close to their Super Rugby pack but their backline outside Gary van Aswegen, as well as on the bench, will be new and it will be interesting to see how Bok u/20 and Blitsbok Cheslin Kolbe steps up to real senior rugby.

The Blue Bulls have problems. They lost a number of players to the Boks as well as to foreign shores and their forwards have been below par during Super Rugby. WP may not have the strongest pack but they have all played together for a while now and I do not think the Blue Bulls will have enough up front to bother them while at the back the battle between two rookie lineups may be up for grabs and the WP halfback pair’s superior experience should take the game away from the Bulls.

WP by 6

WP: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Pat Howard, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Louis Schreuder (vice-captain), 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Gerbrandt Grobler, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16. Alistair Vermaak, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Ruan Kitshoff, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Berton Klaasen

Blue Bulls: 15. Jürgen Visser , 14. Sampie Mastriet , 13. Ulrich Beyers , 12. Francois Venter , 11. Travis Ismaiel, 10. Tony Jantjies, 9. Rudy Paige , 8. Jono Ross(c), 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Wiaan Liebenberg, 5. Grant Hattingh, 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Frik Kirsten , 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Morné Mellet
Replacements: 16. Callie Visagie , 17. Marcell van der Merwe , 18. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19. Jean Cook , 20. Ruan Snyman , 21. Waylon Murray , 22. Clayton Blommetjies.

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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.
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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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Semi final refs – the stats

October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Interesting stats I picked up in a Sharksworld comment. (I haven’t checked these stats). We love to think that certain refs hate our teams but perception isn’t always the truth.

Lions vs WP (Marius Jonker):

Since 2003, Jonker has reffed the Lions in 15 Currie Cup games, which they won 7. Of these 15 games, seven were at home (won four) and eight were away (won three).

Jonker reffing province is similar, 15 Currie cup games, province won seven. Five were home games (won four) and 10 were away(won three)

Interestingly, Jonker has reffed five Lions/province Currie Cup games, and the Lions have won four of those, the only province win coming in week 6, 2011.

In the last 10 years of Currie Cup, Lions have played province 21 times, Lions winning 11 of those, and province winning nine. There was one draw, back in 2003, at Ellis Park.

Of those 21 games, 11 were in Joburg, Lions won nine. province have only won once in Joburg in the last 10 years, week three of 2005, by 38-23. Lions have beaten province twice in cape town in the last ten years, this year, 22-9, and in 2004 by 35-26.

The one time we (the Lions) lost to province with Jonker as a ref was in cape town last year, by 26-28.

Sharks vs Bulls (Mark Lawrence):

Mark Lawrence in charge of a sharks/bulls game reveals the following:

Lawrence has reffed the sharks 25 times in Currie cup in the last ten years, of which they won 17! 11 were at home(won 9) and 14 away(won 8). He has reffed the bulls 23 times in the same period, of which they won 15. Eight were at home(won 7) and 15 away(won 8).

Lawrence handling a sharks/bulls encounter, sharks won five, and bulls one, the only bulls win coming at durban in 2006. 2007,2008,2009 and this year in durban were won by the sharks, as was 2011 in pretoria.

In ten years of currie cup action, sharks have met bulls 21 times, winning 13, with eight going the way of the bulls. Of these 21 games, 11 were played in durban, with the sharks prevailing nine times. The two blots on the record books are the 2006 Lawrence game(32-50), as well as in 2004(23-27).

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And then there were four

October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Currie Cup competition is into its final stages. Only four teams remain to fight it out for the top spot and only one team with no further interest in the competition. The Sharks, Golden Lions, WP and the Blue Bulls made it through to the semi finals while the Cheetahs has to face the Kings in promotion/relegation matches. The Griquas can put their feet up and watch the remaining matches from the sidelines.

Sharks vs Blue Bulls:

In one semi final the Sharks play host to the Blue Bulls in Durban. The Sharks had the luxury of resting some of their key players in their last match, assured of a home semi final while the Blue Bulls had to pull out all stops to avoid the relegation zone and were helped by a Lions team that imploded in the last quarter.

On the face of it it should be a relatively comfortable win for the Sharks but the record books show that the Blue Bulls can never be taken lightly in the knock out stages of the Currie Cup. Of the 17 semi finals the Sharks contested they only managed to win eight while the Blue Bulls have won 13 of the 16 they contested. That said, however, the Blue Bulls last beat the Sharks in Durnban in 2006.

So while the Sharks will call on the players they rested to strengthen their side the match will probably be a close one and, depending on the weather, could be decided by the boot.

There are some mouth watering matchups to look forward to. Up front

  • in the front row it will be Bok props vs discarded Bok bench props
  • a good second row faces the Bok second choice second row
  • in the back row we’ll probably see an all Bok backrow take on some serious young talent

And in the backline we have

  • the two form scrumhalves of the competition doing battle
  • behind them it is Bok #10 vs ignored Bok #10/15
  • some of the best young midfield players facing up
  • four Bok wings doing battle
  • the form fullback facing the incumbent Bok fullback

This match have the ingredients to be a great match but we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

Personally I’m going with a Sharks win but won’t be surprised if the Blue Bulls get their mojo back.

Golden Lions vs WP:

Last weekend the Lions, resting some key players, imploded in the last quarter against the Blue Bulls while WP, fielding their strongest available side, wiped the floor with the Cheetahs.

The Golden Lions face the most successful team in Currie Cup history, Western Province, in the other semi final but it is a WP side who last held a Currie Cup 11 years ago and have since been tagged as chokers and who will be desperate to change their recent record. Talking of history WP has won 13 out of the 18 semi finals they played while the Golden Lions have been less successful winning only eight out of 15 but the only time the two teams met in a semi final was last year and the Golden Lions won that encounter.

It remains to be seen if a full strength Lions side will be good enough to beat a full strength WP side but the matchups make for a good match.

Up front

  • one of the best frontrows in the country face up to some good youngsters
  • two war horses, young and old, do battle in the second row against a young Bok war horse
  • a couple of fetchers have to contend with a retreaded hooker/wing and the Bok number eight

And at the back

  • the Lions only scrumhalf match up to two in form youngsters
  • a Bok (young or old) face off against a young pretender
  • \a good journeyman and a rookie Bok to face two experienced Boks playing in their preferred positions
  • talented young wings do battle with a forgotten Bok and an unfulfilled talent
  • one of the finds of the year face a sometimes x-factor journeyman at fullback

On the day either side can take this match and both sides have something to prove, the Lions want to rub it in and WP wants some silverware. This makes the match a difficult one to predict and when it is a 50/50 decision I go with the Lions to win.

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Currie Cup Crunch Time

October 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

There are no dead rubbers this weekend and even though the Sharks and the Lions are assured of home semi finals their game results will have an impact on all the other teams. Only two points separate the other four teams and losses would not only end their semi final hopes but also put them in a possible promotion/relegation play-off against the EP Kings.

While no-one really expects any of these teams to really lose against the Kings in a two match play-off series, although anything is possible, it is the ignomy of finishing last that will grate, especially for the full strength Super Rugby teams, the Blue Bulls and Western Province.

Sharks vs Griquas:

With the Lions accepting a Sharks win and selecting a weakened side for their game there is even less pressure on the Sharks where any result might just be good enough. The Sharks used there returning Boks sparingly but even so, a win by Griquas is only a remote possibility.

Sharks by 12

Western Province vs Cheetahs:

This is  a real crunch match with the winner probably in the semis and the loser probably in the bottom end play-offs so, at the risk of losing team cohesion, both sides pulled in all their Boks, more so WP as they have quite a few. The risk for WP is that the returning Boks may try to revert to the Stormers game while the rest of the team has been on another wavelength altogether. The Cheetahs will give it a good college try but will fall short in the end as their defences lets them down – again, but it will be a close match.

WP by 7

Lions vs Blue Bulls:

Even though the Lions are sitting comfortably in second spot this match will determine the fate of some of the other teams. It’s really simple: if the Bulls win, they will probably move into the semis with one of the other match losers dropping into the bottom spot to face the Kings, if the Bulls lose they will finish last. The danger for the Bulls is that they cannot afford to just rock up thinking the game is won against a young Lions side (only four of the starting 15 is over 25) as these youngsters would like nothing better than prove they are good enough. However, if all goes according to expectations the Bulls should win comfortably.

Bulls by 15

And all this sets up the semi finals:

Sharks vs Bulls – Durban
Lions vs WP – Johannesburg

First Division:

EP Kings vs Pumas:

Down in PE the EP Kings face the Pumas in the First Division finals. Neither of these sides could get the better of the other during the league stages playing to a draw twice so one can expect a tight match. The Pumas had a very inconsistent campaign while the Kings were unbeaten through the league phases but have lost their captain to injury making this a tough call.

However, home ground advantage and all, the Kings should pull it off to finally win a trophy but that’s really irrelevant as they will be playing for promotion to the Premier Division anyway.

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by Baylion

Forget about Loftus, the action is at Newlands

September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

The match up at Newlands between WP and the Golden Lions could prove to be the match of the weekend. With WP, combining a solid defence with attacking flair that was sadly missing in the Stormers, facing a Lions side capable of scoring tries, also sadly missing during Super Rugby, from anywhere we are in for some finger licking good rugby.

It was way back in 2004 that the Lions last won at Newlands in the Currie Cup and they will have their work cut out, not only to contain WP but also to break through their defences. WP’s youngsters have stepped up to challenge and a weak defence gets severely punished, just ask the Blue Bulls (42-6) and Griquas (45-21).

On de udder hand Darren, the Lions are quite capable to break down defences while their defence of their own tryline is not too bad and with Lionel Mapoe and Andries Coetzee, amongst others, in top form the WP defence will be tested .

The battle up front will be one of youth versus experience, with WP front row still eligible for u/21 honours. The WP youngsters will have to be better than their best to front up to the form pack of the season but the Lions will have to improve their possession stats in order to have a fair chance at attack. In the last two game they had to make substantially more tackles than their opponents – Cheetahs (70) vs Lions (208), Lions (173) vs Sharks (130) – and against a strong defence like that of WP this could cost them the game as the margin for error will be small.

At the back the Lions have lost Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute to the Boks and while that will make a difference they have more than capable replacements in Butch James and Dylan Des Fountain, players with vast experience and who can put pressure on their opposite numbers, while Mapoe has been a livewire on the field and the matchup between him and JP du Plessis could be one of the contests of the match.

While the Lions, in theory, should be the favourites to win this match the WP youngsters have stood their ground well and only a fool would not give them a more than even chance to win at home.

Well, let me be the fool then and go with the Lions to win by 6.

Other picks:
Griquas by 7
Sharks by 9
South Africa by 9
New Zealand by 15

Western Province:

15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12. Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Patrick Howard

Golden Lions:

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Butch James, 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 (c).

Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon van Rensburg, 22 James Kamana

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by Baylion

Super Rugby in perspective

September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

The current Currie Cup competition is being written off in many quarters as a watered down affair because of the Springboks not being available, especially to the Sharks, Bulls and WP. Consider for a moment how these teams would have performed if they had to play Super Rugby with their current Currie Cup sides.

Apart from the Sharks, who still have a fairly strong side, they probably would have struggled to win any matches.

Consider now that the Lions were without up to 14 of their first and second choice players at any one time.

The players out injured in Round 4 could virtually make up a good starting XV:

Injured team: 15. Hollenbach, 14. Des Fountain, 13. Murray, 12. la Grange, 11. Mapoe, 10. Jantjies, 9. Bondesio, 8. , 7. Rhodes, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Van Heerden, 3. Vd Linde, 2. Maku, 1. Janse Van Rensburg

I know some would say that you cannot compare having players missing through injury to missing them because they are with the Boks but I cannot see why not, players missing are players missing.

So you see, I don’t have much sympathy for these teams that miss players to the Boks, that’s just the nature of the competition, and if we can win the Currie Cup again well, it is still the Currie Cup.

Anyway, just a thought. Use it, don’t use it.

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Can the Golden Lions beat WP?

August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

It has been a traumatic 10 days for the Golden Lions, which saw them kicked out of Super Rugby, losing to the Sharks in Durban and, the latest, losing their arbitration case against the Pumas and the Leopards. And now they face one of the “baddies” in the drama, the Western Province, whose coach made no bones about it that he would like some of the Lions players to play for the Stormers next year.

The big question is whether the Lions players can put all that happened behind them and start focusing on the game, and possibly their own futures.

It is great to see Bandise Maku back on his post. He replaces Callie Visagie who injured his ribs last week. On the bench Martin Bezuidenhout is back as replacement hooker while ex-Blue Bull, Deon Helberg, replaces Guy Cronje as a replacement flyhalf isn’t needed with both Jantjies and Butch in the side.

The Lions have the tight five to dominate both the scrums and the lineouts against a WP side without Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth. It’s in the rucks and mauls however where they will have to counter Siya Kolisi and Duane Vermeulen and make sure that they win and retain ball possession. The Lions trio of Strauss, Grobbelaar and Whiteley should be up to the task.

Even though the WP is noted for their strong defence, without possession where they are forced to defend even more the opening and opportunities will come. If the Lions can open up the game to bring Warren Whiteley and their backline into play they should have too much fire power for the WP.

WP is playing a young halfback pair and while I have a lot of respect for Demetri Catrakilis I cannot say that I’ve seen anything of note from Louis Schroeder and his replacement, Dewaldt Duvenage, don’t inspire too much fear either. The Lions pair of Jantjies and Bondesio should have the upper hand.

It’s at the back that WP can be dangerous but it isn’t the quality backline of the Stormers that faces the Lions but a mix of quality players and journeymen. The Lions’ backline on the other hand is a mixture of youth and experience and given enough ball should carry the day.

All well and good but as the saying goes, the game is played on grass, not on paper and WP has enough danger men who, combined with the team’s overall defensive strength, can turn the tide in their favour and the Lions cannot afford to be off form, for whatever reason, if they want to win this game.

Lions by 15

Sat, 25 August 17h05
Coca Cola Park. Johannesburg

Golden Lions (probable):

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).

Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruan Combrinck.


15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 JP du Plessis, 22 Kurt Coleman