The Currie Cup goes into week 5 of this seasons matches with some good match-ups this weekend to look forward to.
It kicks off with the Blue Bulls hosting the Pumas on Friday at Loftus and on Saturday we have two matches first the Golden Lion against Province and then Griquas take on the Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley.
BLUE BULLS vs PUMAS (Friday, 7pm live on SS1)
Slipping against the Golden Lions at home and Sharks away the Blue Bulls got their second win over Griquas last week in Kimberley.
They had to work hard to scrap the win pass a mush improved Griquas side on the day. The Pumas started well but failed to win after that and will want to get back to winning ways on Friday.
They will have to do it on the road and at Loftus which will not be easy. The Blue Bulls will be aware that another loss would put their changes to make the playoffs in a very difficult place.
They will be boosted by the news that captain and No 8 Hanro Liebenberg has fully recovered from the illness that caused his 11th-hour withdrawal from the Griquas match. Bok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl has also possibly got his chance to nail down a place as the Bulls’ first-choice No 9 as he rotates with teammate André Warner, who drops to the bench.
Stonehouse has definitely not been conservative in his team selection, giving speedsters Devon Williams and Morné Joubert their first starts of the season, with an attacking centre partnership in Ryan Nell and Niel Maritz also set to cause the Bulls problems.
Captain Hennie Skorbinski, who picked up an injury in the loss against the Sharks, will be absent, with lock Hugo Kloppers leading the team out at Loftus.
Prediction: Blue Bulls by 8
Blue Bulls – 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jonny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendré Stassen, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Conrad van Vuuren, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Jano Venter, 20 André Warner, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage.
Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neil Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (c), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais.
GOLDEN LIONS vs WESTERN PROVINCE (Saturday, 3pm live in SS1)
Definatly the match of the weekend in the Currie Cup as Province travel up north to take on the Golden Lions. Both teams have been impressive so far in the Currie Cup and both are unbeaten.
Province with two wins against the Free State and Pumas and the Golden Lions with three wins sitting nicely on top of the log with 15 points.
Both teams look like champions and the result my give us an indicator who will be the favourites this year to lift the trophy.
Fullback Andries Coetzee enjoyed a rare week off last week and returns to the starting lineup, causing Sylvian Mahuza to shift to wing, while hooker Corné Fourie, on the bench against Free State, also starts.
The departure of Springboks Damian de Allende, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Wilco Louw have necessitated further changes with Dan Kriel, Ernst van Rhyn and Michael Kumbirai all coming into the starting XV.
Province, who are coming off their second bye, lost this fixture last season, before going on to win their semi-final against the Lions. A win in Johannesburg, therefore, could be the boost Province need to go on and defend their title.
Prediction: Golden Lions by 4
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Corné Fourie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Johannes Jonker, 18 Reinhard Nortnagel, 19 Driaan Bester, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Wandisile Simelane.
Western Province – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Dan du Plessis.
GRIQUAS vs FREE STATE (Saturday, 5pm live on SS1)
It will be the battle of the bottom dwellers at this stage when Griquas and Free State face each-other in Kimberley on Saturday.
Nobody wants the wooden spoon but it seems may result will decide who will get that unwanted accolade.
Griquas came within a try of pulling off an upset against the Bulls and coach Peter Engledow seems content with what he saw in that match as he has only tinkered with his pack, bringing in an all-new front row, while Jonathan Janse van Rensburg also starts at No 8.
Home advantage may be the deciding factor on Saturday.
Prediction: Griquas buy 12
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (c), 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Eital Bredenkamp, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Liam Hendricks.
Subs: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 FP Pelser, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Zak Burger, 21 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Christopher Bosch.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tersius Kruger, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige (c), 8 Stephan Malan, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Louis Conradie, 3 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Johan Kotze.
Subs: 16 Kevin Stevens, 17 Jannes Snyman, 18 Stefan van Schalkwyk, 19 Nardus Erasmus, 20 Luigy van Jaarsveld, 21 Dian Badenhorst, 22 Ryno Eksteen.