It is ABSA Currie Cup week 2 and if last week was anything to go by then we are in for another great weekend of rugby.
Golden Lions vs Pumas (Emirates Airline Park “Live” SS1 at 19:10)
Both teams stated there Currie Cup with wins and will look forward to keep that going when they face-off against each other in Johannesburg on Friday night.
The Lions beat the Kings 51-14 and the Pumas got another win over the Sharks in Nelspruit 33-24. Both sides will be confidant coming into this weeks match.
Victory over the Sharks and their triumph in the Vodacom Cup this year, the men from Nelspruit are one of the teams to look out for this year and all teams will take the so-called minnows seriousely this year.
Two players to watch out for will be scrum-half Faf de Klerk and prop Corne Fourie, who both impressed for the Lions during their Super Rugby campaign and Mentz believes the home side will go the extra mile to negate any advantage the duo might have after their stint with the Johannesburg-based side.
“Johan Ackermann is a wily coach and I am sure he will make plans to ensure Corne and Faf don’t pick up on their game-plan,” said Mentz.
“We’ve seen the type of rugby the Lions can play and we have a fairly good idea of what to expect.”
The Lions showed in their win over the Kings that they will continue with their expansive style of play which helped them to reach last year’s final.
In Ruan Combrinck, Courtnall Skosan, Harold Vorster, Howard Mnisi and Sampie Mastriet they possess dangerous attackers while Marnitz Boshoff is one of the best goal-kickers in the country.
Up front, captain Jaco Kriel is out to prove a point, after missing out on Springbok selection while his back-row partner, Blitzbokke stalwart, Kwagga Smith, will want to continue where he left off against the Kings, after scoring a hat-trick of tries last weekend.
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Sampie Mastriet/Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Stokkies Hanekom, 22 Jaco van der Walt.
Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (captain), 11 Rosco Spekman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Lambert Groenewald, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Giant Mtyanda, 3 De-Jay Terblanché, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jason-Colin Fraser, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Hoffmann Maritz
Date: Friday, August 14
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Oregopotse Rametsi
Television match official: Johan Greeff
Blue Bulls vs Griquas (Loftus Versfeld at 19:10)
The Blue Bulls have put down the marker last week with an impressive win over the Free State Cheetahs and surprise most on the way the pt the Cheetahs away.
The Blue Bulls are in a rebuilding phase and what makes most of there supporters excited is the fact that they finally are seeing some initiative rugby from the Bulls and that the young talent that the union have is coming through.
Under the hand of head coach Nollis Marais, the Blue Bulls are again showing the signs of a team that can bring back the supporters to Loftus and it is great not just for the union but for South African rugby as well.
Man of the match, Francois Hougaard will again play a pivot role in getting this young and exciting back line away. One thing that did stand out from teh Blue Bulls last week was there scrums and although not perfect yet, it looks like they are getting there mojo back.
Griquas were on the receiving end of a 43-19 defeat against the defending champions Western Province in Kimberley on Friday and, as that scoreline suggests, they had little to crow after that effort. They will have to step it up if they want to be competitive this year and have any say in making the play-offs.
Their head coach Hawies Fourie has made several changes to his matchday squad for this weekend’s clash.
Amongst the backs, Ruhan Nel shifts from outside centre to right wing where he replaces Ederies Arendse while Johnathan Francke comes in to wear the number 13 jersey.
In the forwards, former Springbok loose forward Hilton Lobberts takes over from Nardus van der Walt on the blindside flank while Stephan Kotze replaces Ewald van der Westhuizen who drops down to the bench.
There’s a strong look to the visitors’ replacements bench which includes experienced players like Martin Bezuidenhout (hooker), Leon Karemaker (back-row) and former Blue Bulls wing Jacquin Jansen.
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dries Swanepoel.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 18 Jaco Nepgen, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Rudi van Rooyen, 21 Clinton Swart, 22 Jacquin Jansen.
Date: Friday, August 14
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Referees: Sindile Ngcese, Archie Sehlako
Assessor: Craig Joubert
Western Province vs Free State Cheetahs (Newlands “Live” on SS1 at 15:00)
Western Province will want to continue were they left off last week in there aim to defend the Currie Cup successfully at the end of the season when they host the Free State Cheetahs at Newlands
Although not close to a perfect performance the Western Province team made it look easy to beat the Griquas team in Kimberley last week and they will want to start with a win in there first match in-front of there home crowd on Saturday.
The Cheetahs vs Western Province match is usually an open hing score match as both teams are willing to give the ball air and we expect another great game from these two teams.
Western Province will make a huge mistake if they take anything from the lost the Cheetahs suffered against the Blue Bulls last week and will have to be ready for an onslaught as that loss would have hurt the men from Bloemfontein.
“As coaches, especially as a new coaching unit, we know the responsibilities that go with coaching at this union – and coaching at DHL Newlands – and we would love to open our 2015 home campaign on a high,” he added.
The Free State side faltered in their first match in Bloemfontein and new coach, Franco Smith, has made a number of changes to his side in a bid to get the desired result in Cape Town.
New fly-half recruit Fred Zeilinga will make his first start for the visitors as the ex-Shark takes over the number 10 jersey from rookie Niel Marais.
Former Western Force fly-half Sias Ebersohn is back in South Africa and he will provide cover for Zeilinga. The other change in the backline sees AJ Coertzen replace Coenie van Wyk at full-back.
Amongst the forwards, Neil Jordaan will be starting at number eight with Gerhard Olivier now on the bench, while Armandt Koster will start at lock in place of Willem Serfontein and Niel Raubenheimer makes way for Jacques du Toit at hooker.
The last time these teams met, WP won 34-29 in Bloemfontein.
Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Kobus van Wyk
Free State Cheetahs: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Neil Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Gerhard Olivier, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn
Date: Saturday, August 15
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 15:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs, Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Willie Vos
Sharks vs EP Kings (Growthpoint Kings Park “Live” on SS1 at 17:05)
Both teams had the worst start possible last week in losses against the Pumas and Lions respectively.
The Sharks will be desperate to put the wrongs right in-front of a home crowd who had not much to shout about there team this year so far.
Falling behind in the Currie Cup so early in the season will make it hard for any team to catch up and as the teams get better an better as the season progress.
In the final cross-section fixture of the weekend, the Sharks will be desperate to bounce back from their shock loss to the Pumas in Nelspruit in Round one as they host the Kings in Durban. The Sharks came home last week from Nelspruit with no points at all and will want to register a good win this weekend.
Sharks loose forward Jean Deysel (starting) and centre Paul Jordaan (bench) will make a welcome return to the Sharks steam. The pair have been out of action for months due to injury, but their experience will be important as the Durban side go in search of their first victory.
With the Kings one never really knows were the team is at but they are surely no walkover like last weeks score against the Lions suggest.
Despite suffering a heavy loss in their opening match against the Golden Lions, EP Kings coach, Brent Janse van Rensburg showed faith in the players that did duty last week by keeping changes to a minimum. In the only change to his starting XV, Siyanda Grey, who was on the bench last week, comes in for Sylvian Mahuza on the right wing.
The Kings went down 51-14 to the Lions in Port Elizabeth last Saturday but Janse van Rensburg said he did not think it would be appropriate to make wholesale changes at this stage.
“We have selected a similar combination because we feel we need to maintain a sense of continuity,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“We have brought Siyanda into the team as we believe he has what it takes to curb the type of rugby the Sharks will bring to the game.”
With the scrum being an issue for the Kings last weekend, Janse van Rensburg was happier with the five-two split and felt they could benefit from an extra front row player on the bench.
“We have focused on our scrums to make sure we fix what the problems were and we know we have to focus on the scrum as a united effort,” said Janse van Rensburg.
Skipper Luke Watson said his team were looking forward to the opportunity to give an improved performance this week.
“The Sharks are a very good side, with a strong set piece and big backs, so it will be a tough match,” said Watson.
“The Lions game was a bit of a wake-up call, but we know what areas we have had to work on and hopefully we will come back a bit more polished this week.”
The Kings will be playing in next years Super Rugby and will want to improve quickly in the Currie Cup as they prepare for the Super Rugby.
Sharks: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Wandile Mjekevu, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Andre Esterhuizen, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 18 David McDuling, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Paul Jordaan, 22 SP Marais.
EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Luther Obi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Luke Watson (captain), 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Karlo Aspeling
Date: Saturday, August 15
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:10 (15:10 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Tahla Ntshakaza
TMO: Christie du Preez