Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse says his team intend to defend their undefeated record in Witbank on Friday and qualify for promotion to next season’s Currie Cup Premier Division.
The 2009 First Division champions host the Boland Cavaliers in their second and final promotion/relegation match and must defeat their Wellington opponents to be promoted to the Premier Division next season.
The Cavaliers defeated the Pumas 36-35 at the Boland Stadium in Wellington last Saturday, but Stonehouse insists that his team can change their fortunes at home in Witbank.
“We are undefeated at home and we’d like to use that to our advantage,” said Stonehouse.
“If we don’t qualify for the Currie Cup Premier Division, it will be a huge disappointment, but we’re not even thinking about that at this stage. Our focus is to win the match and to earn promotion, that’s the only thing on our minds at the moment.
“We didn’t play well last week and we’d like to rectify that on Friday.”
Stonehouse has made only one change to his squad that were defeated by the Cavaliers last Saturday.
The starting XV that narrowly lost to the Boland in the first fixture was retained for the return match. Reserve scrumhalf Hendrik van der Nest has been left out of the match-day-22 and has been replaced by Juan Visser.
Van der Nest has not recovered from a leg injury and Visser, who plays mostly at centre, will give the hosts more options on the bench.
The Boland Cavaliers’ Director of Rugby Chester Williams has made three changes to his side for the Witbank trip.
At scrumhalf Danie van der Merwe replaces Marnus Hugo, Junior Bester returns to the starting line-up and will don the No.8 jersey, while Hayden Groepes also earns a start on the wing, in place of Wendal Wehr.
“It’s always tough playing in Witbank due to the altitude factor, but I am confident that the team selected will be able to do the job on Friday,” said Williams.
* Meanwhile SWD Eagles coach Johann Lerm is confident his team can defeat the Leopards in their second-leg promotion/relegation match at Outeniqua Park, also on Friday. The Leopards defeated the George side 47-42 in the first match last Saturday.
“The guys did well last weekend and we now know that we can defeat the Leopards when we host them on Friday,” said Lerm.
“We also can’t wait to play in front of our home crowd in George this time as we know we can do it. But before that, we will have to keep our feet on the ground and concentrate on the big task ahead.”
Lerm has kept faith in his side that were defeated in Potchefstroom last Saturday and named an unchanged team for Friday’s match in George.
SWD Eagles fullback Bevin Fortuin, who will captain the side, will earn his 100th game for the George outfit. The Springbok, who made his first class debut in 2000, has also played in more than 50 matches for the Free State Cheetahs.
Leopards coach Chaka Willemse, who made three changes and two positional changes, said they won’t change their approach much.
“We do have a few aces up our sleeves, you must always tweak a bit and change the attack,” he said.
“There are areas where we thought they may lack on defence and we will target those.
“However, generally we will stick with what worked for us so far this season – the key is to remain consistent and stick with what works for you.”
Captain Wilhelm Koch will have a new flank partner in Bennie Adams, who replaces the injured Thabo Mamojele. Rynard Landman returns to the starting line up and replaces Bradley Mockford at lock.
Deon van Rensburg, who will represent the union for a 92nd occasion, returns to the starting line-up which results in Jovan Bowles moving out onto the right wing, with Danie Dames shifting to fullback.
Willemse said they realised that they lost a lot of momentum in the second half last week due to the amount of penalties they conceded late in the game.
“We’ve worked on our discipline during the week and hopefully, we won’t give away unnecessary penalties. We’re confident of our chances and hopefully we’ll defeat the Eagles and continue playing our rugby in the Currie Cup Premier Division next season.”
* The two teams with the most log points after completion of the two promotion/relegation matches will play in the Currie Cup Premier Division in the following season. In the event of an equal number of log points, the winner will be determined as follows:
1. The best nett points’ difference – i.e. points for minus points against, and if equal,
2. The team who scored the most tries, and if equal,
3. The status quo will remain.
Current standings (under headings points difference, tries scored and points):
Leopards v Eagles:
Leopards +5 … 6 … 5
Eagles -5 … 5 … 2
Boland v Pumas:
Boland +1 … 5 … 5
Pumas -1 … 5 … 2
SWD Eagles v Leopards
(Outeniqua Park, George – Kick-off: 16.00, 14.00 GMT)
SWD Eagles: 15 Bevin Fortuin (captain), 14 Norman Nelson, 13 Bobbie Joubert, 12 Joe Breytenbach, 11 Baldwin McBean, 10 Ricardo Croy, 9 Dougie Hellmuth, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Shawn Raubenheimer, 6 Victor Joubert, 5 Henry Grimes, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 Tiaan de Kock, 2 Wayne Bennett, 1 Jaco Terblanche.
Replacements: 16 Junior Leota, 17 Anton van der Westhuizen, 18 Hein Potgieter, 19 Wickus Liebenberg, 20 Jandré Blom, 21 Sinethemba Zweni, 22 Jandré du Plessis.
Leopards: 15 Danie Dames, 14 Jovan Bowles, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Basil de Doncker, 11 Shuaib Samaai, 10 Cecil Dumond, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 RW Kember, 7 Bennie Adams, 6 Wilhelm Koch/Christo van Niekerk (captain), 5 Edrich Linde, 4 Rynard Landman, 3 Barend van der Walt, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 Nardus Lombard.
Replacements: 16 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 17 Divan Kotzé, 18 Antonie Gronum, 19 Christo van Niekerk/Riaan Swanepoel, 20 Theo van Wyk, 21 Clayton Durand, 22 Colin Lloyd.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Gareth Lloyd-Jones, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Johann Meuwesen
Pumas v Boland Cavaliers
(Puma Stadium, Witbank – Kick-off: 18.00, 16.00 GMT)
Pumas: 15 MJ Mentz, 14 Braam Pretorius, 13 Shaun Venter, 12 Hyron Thysse, 11 Allister Ketteldas, 10 Tiaan Marx, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Doppies le Roux, 7 Pieter Meyer, 6 Jaco Bouwer, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Eduaan van der Walt, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Hannes Franklin (captain), 1 Ronnie Uys.
Replacements: 16 Corn Steenkamp, 17 Dawie Steyn, 18 Dee-Jay Terblanche, 19 Savage van Heerden, 20 Martin Sithole, 21 Juan Visser, 22 Ashwin Scott.
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Justin Peach, 14 Hayden Groepes, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Deon Scholtz, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Danie van der Merwe, 8 Junior Bester, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 Zandré Jordaan, 5 George Earl, 4 Rito Hlungwane (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Harry Vermaas, 1 Janro van Niekerk.
Replacements: 16 Clemen Lewis, 17 Michael de Neuilly-Rice, 18 Angelo Brinkhuys, 19 David Hendricks, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Dewey Swartbooi, 22 Danré Gerber.
Referee: Pro Legoete
Assistant referees: Tiaan Jonker, Ben Crouse
TMO: Michael Cupido