Great rugby again this weekend as the European season is now in full swing, Currie Cup in their second part of the season and the Rugby Championship going into week 4 of the competition.
It has been great to see the PRO14 on our tv sets and this week we have a change to see the first PRO14 teams playing in South Africa. Although the Cheetahs and Kings have not been great in the first two weeks we will see some improvement as they go along.
Here is our schedule for the weekend which will be broadcast with our preview.
Friday 15 September 2017
Tafel Lager Griquas v Cell C Sharks
Griquas have not had the best few weeks with the Sharks being on a great winning spree and on top of the log. Going to Kimberley is never easy and normally when everyone writes off the Griquas they come and show just how dangerous they are in Currie Cup.
They have a few talented players that have been performing great this season with their biggest problem maybe not being able to put great performances together more often than we expected.
The Sharks have been absolutely great this season even when they are not supposed to win games they get over the line. They have been playing and exciting brand of rugby and really look like contenders this year.
With only four points between the forth and last placed Griquas the playoff spots are still wide open and all to play for.
There have been some good performances from some players in the Griquas team this year but they need Whitehead and Botha to step up against the Sharks with a dominated performance from their forwards to challenge this Sharks side.
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Renier Botha, 8 DeWet Kruger, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Pieter Janse van Vuren, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Nicolaas Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Sintu Manjezi, 19 Shaun McDonald, 20 Tiaan Dorfling, 21 André Swarts, 22 Eric Zana.
Sharks – 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Jean Droste, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Hyron Andrews, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Tristan Blewett, 22 Inny Radebe.
Steval Pumas v DHL Western Province
The Pumas have been the silent giant this year and they have been absolutely brilliant playing at home and this weekend they get the high flying WP in Nelspruit.
WP have been playing a great brand of running rugby this year with the whole team showing of their skills and abilities score some of the bets tries in the competition.
This will be a cracker of a game and a real test for both when they face-off on Friday evening. The Pumas have stopped a few teams in their tracks this year and the will have their eyes on WP to take yet another win over a bigger union.
Only four points separate the two teams on the log and a win will give one team a log advantage over the other after this weekend.
Pumas – 15 Justin van Staden, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 Gerrit Smith, 12Hennie Skorbinski (c), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Mark Pretorius, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Frank Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Brian Shabangu, 20 Hilton Lobberts, 21 Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Selom Gavor.
Western Province – 15 Craig Barry, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Ruhan Nel, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Caylib Oosthuizen, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Werner Kok
Ulster Rugby v Scarlets
By the end of Friday at least one team will see its 100 percent record ended as the champions Scarlets travel to Belfast to take on Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium, in a game that kicks off at 7.35pm.
This time last year, it was Ulster and the Scarlets who were doing battle in the closing stages of the season for the final play-off spot, with the Welsh team eventually sneaking in (and leapfrogging compatriots the Ospreys).
From there they became the first team to win an away semi-final and claimed the title, while Ulster were left to think what might have been. This year both teams have made fine starts, with the Scarlets a perfect ten points from ten, and Ulster just behind with nine.
Les Kiss has made four changes to the side that beat Benetton Rugby with Chris Henry coming straight into the side as captain. Also included are Kyle McCall at loosehead prop, second row Alan O’Connor and centre Luke Marshall.
The Scarlets welcome back skipper Ken Owens for the first time since May after he was named in the starting line-up. He missed the run-in through injury before touring with the Lions, and he will be joined by a couple of fellow tourists, Leigh Halfpenny back in the side and Jonathan Davies named on the bench.
Ulster: L Ludik; A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Herring, W Herbst; K Treadwell, A O’Connor; C Henry, S Reidy, J Deysel.
Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, R Diack, M Rea, P Marshall, P Nelson, T Bowe.
Scarlets: L Halfpenny; J McNicholl, H Parkes, S Williams, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens, S Lee, J Ball, T Beirne, A Shingler, W Boyde, J Barclay
Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, W Kruger, D Bulbring, J Macleod, J Evans, R Jones, J Davies
Read more at www.pro14rugby.org
Other PRO14 Matches Friday:
Newport v Connach 20:30
Edinburgh v Benetton 20:30
Northampton Saints v Bath Rugby
Northampton have made a number of changes in the pack, with Mikey Haywood, Paul Hill and David Ribbans all making their first Premiership starts of the season.
Dylan Hartley (hand) and Tom Wood (shoulder) are on the sidelines, although both are anticipated to be in training next week. Piers Francis (jaw) and Stephen Myler (leg) continue to make good progress in their respective rehabilitation programmes.
Sam Underhill will make his Bath debut against Northampton Saints in the Premiership clash at Franklin’s Gardens.
Underhill is one of four changes to the starting line-up that beat Saracens 31-21 last time out, with Ben Tapuai, Kahn Fotuali’i and Charlie Ewels all making their first starts of the season.
England international Underhill lines up on the openside flank, forming a formidable back-row with Taulupe Faletau and captain Matt Garvey. Ewels comes in to the second row alongside Elliott Stooke, whilst the front-row is unchanged.
Fotuali’i, who came on early in the first-half last week at the Rec, links up with Rhys Priestland in the half-backs, as Tapuai joins Jonathan Joseph in the midfield. Semesa Rokoduguni, who has scored three tries in two games, and Matt Banahan start out wide, with Anthony Watson providing the threat from full-back.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Matt Garvey (c), 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Phillips, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Max Clark
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Harry Mallinder, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes (c), 5 David Ribbans, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Christian Day, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 James Grayson, 23 Ben Foden
Sale Sharks v London Irish
Sale have made four changes to the side that lost to Newcastle for Friday’s clash with London Irish.
Captain Will Addison moves to full-back, Josh Charnley makes his first appearance of the season on the left wing, Bryn Evans returns at lock to face his former club and Marc Jones makes his first start at hooker following his return from Bristol in the close season.
Speaking about the game boss Steve Diamond said, “There is no doubt that London Irish Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy and his coaching staff have done a fantastic job bringing the club back up to the Premiership. We are under no illusions that we face a big task as we look to get our season really up and rolling by registering our first win of the campaign. Last Friday’s 13-12 defeat at home to Newcastle was obviously very frustrating for us all.”
Diamond added: “We didn’t play well in certain areas against Newcastle and for us to be highly competitive in this league winning at home is very important. As a club, we pride ourselves on setting the highest of standards and the disappointment last Friday was that we didn’t meet them. Rest assured that everyone has been working extremely hard on and off the training ground this week and I’m hopeful that our efforts ensure we will get the turnaround in fortunes that we all want to see.”
Meanwhile, London Irish have made four changes for the Premiership clash.
Ben Franks captains the side, the double World Cup-winning All Black replacing Petrus Du Plessis at tighthead. Franks packs down alongside hooker Dave Porecki who comes in for David Paice, while in the backline Fijian international Aseli Tikoirotuma and Brendan McKibbin start at outside centre and scrum-half respectively.
The Exiles travel to Greater Manchester with five points to their name, having defeated Harlequins in the season opener at Twickenham.
Looking for his side to improve on last week’s performance at Exeter Chiefs, Exiles’ boss Nick Kennedy said: “We’ve addressed a few things from the Exeter game and as a team we’re looking forward to the challenge that awaits us at Sale.
“Sale are a physical side and we will need to match them in that department from the very first whistle.
“I’ve made some changes to the team to freshen things up after the first two rounds of the season and I’m looking forward to seeing how Ben Franks, Dave Porecki, Aseli Tikoirotuma and Brendan McKibbin all do from the start.”
Sale: 15 Will Addison (c), 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (cc), 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Alex Tarus, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Andre Ostrikov, 20 Tom Curry, 21 TJ Ioane, 22 Will Cliff, 23 Mike Haley
London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 James Marshall, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Mike Coman, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Ben Franks (c), 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
Replacements: 16 David Paice, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Greig Tonks 23 Napolioni Nalaga
Other Premier Matches Friday:
Worcester v Exeter
Saturday 16 September
All Blacks v Springboks
Have always said it and will always say it, there is nothing bigger than a test between the All Blacks and the Springboks and even though we have been not great the last few years we the test always end up in a classic.
There is no question about it that the All Blacks have been and still is the best team in the world. With a Springboks team still building not many will expect a win and to be frank it is not what this weekend test is about.
It is rather about a test of improving, a Springbok team keep on improving from what was a horrible past two years in our rugby history.
To make life a bit more difficult for Coetzee men is the fact that have lost two more players to injuries in Coenie Oostuizen and Jaco Kriel. Both have been great so far in the Rugby Championship and will be missed.
The Boks are missing senior players such as captain Warren Whiteley, Duane Vermeulen, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen and Jaco Kriel.
Their replacements may have the ability to step in but they do not have that experience that is also lost with the injuries and that you do not want to loose against this All Black team where most things are against you.
The All Blacks have suffered their own losses. They will go into this match without seasoned front-rankers such as Owen Franks and Joe Moody.
Last week was not a good weekend for the Boks and will have to make a major step up this weekend.
All Blacks – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Springboks – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane,19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende.
Australia v Argentina
Australia have not won a test yet in the Championship this year and they will be going out to get that first win against the Pumas on Saturday when they host them in round 4.
Argentina had their best test against the All Blacks last week but again fell short to play for 80 minutes and ran out of steam. Against the Aussies they can expect the same as they will be trying to run them from end to end and make sure of that first win.
With both teams win-less I am sure both teams will want to get it right this weekend.
The signs for both the Aussies and Pumas are their that they can step it up but they have felt short so many times just as you think they will start getting better.
Atleast we know one will get away with a win this weekend unless we see another draw.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley (vc), 9 Will Genia (vc), 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Marika Koroibete
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel tatez Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Lucas Noguera
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Martin Leguizamon, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Manuel Montero
Southern Kings v Leinster Rugby
The Kings have been struggling to get into the PRO14 and they will have to step it up yet again in week three when they host Leinster in PE this weekend.
It is now very clear that PRO14 is at a much higher standard as most thought and that a step up to Currie Cup. The two SA sides will get better but that will come with time and this first year will be difficult but must be taken as a learning curve…
more to follow…
Golden Lions v Blue Bulls
Two teams who did not had it all their way this far in the Currie Cup but have started to put some wins together and with such a close Currie Cup log one can expect fireworks on Saturday.
This is the the last Currie Cup match the weekend and one that will give us a better idea if these two struggling teams have made the u-turn in the competition or not.
There have been a major change in Blue Bull rugby in the last few months and Micthell and his troops will want to show their worth against the Lions.
Golden Lions – 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Marco Janse van Vuren, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen (c).
Subs: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Fabian Booysen, 21 Shaun Reynolds, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Blue Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (c), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Rabs Maxwane, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Jano Venter, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic De Jager, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Matthys Basson, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Tim Agaba, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Manie Libbok, 22 Johnny Kotze.
Toyota Cheetahs v Zebre Rugby Club
As with the Kings the Cheetahs did not had a good time in the first two weeks of PRO14 rugby and will want to turn the tables at home when they host Zebre on Saturday.
more to follow…
Other PRO14 matches
Ospreys v Munster
Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors
Clermont Auvergne v Brive 20:40
Newcastle Falcons v Saracens 22:55
Racing 92 v Oyonnax 12:25