Free State Cheetahs will host the Blue Bulls on Saturday afternoon in the 2016 Currie Cup final which is panning out to be a cracker to end our domestic season.
Although most believe that the Free State will go into Saturdays final as favoutites no one can not underestimate the progress this young Blue Bulls side made this year under Nollis.
Both teams have suffered injuries ahead of the final but there is enough quality that will be on the park to make this a great final. The Blue Bulls have not won a trophy that matters since 2010 when they lifted the Super 14 silverware and for the Free State it has been nine years long since the last won the Currie Cup.
The Free State Cheetahs have been the inform team throughout the Currie Cup and has gone through the whole competition undefeated showing a new style of play combining with hard uncompromising forward play.. Getting the ball into space has been successfully implemented by coach Smith without losing shape with his forward play.
Set pieces throughout the Currie Cup have been good for the men from Bloemfontein with one of the strongest scrums around in the Currie Cup as well. For once this Cheetahs side have again a well balance side that can compete up front and with the exciting backs they had outscored all teams this years.
Playing at home will be a huge advantage for the Free Sate outfit with Smith and his troops that will be hoping for a sellout crowd to spear them on to glory after a disappointing Super Rugby season. One of the worrying factors for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby was their defense, and although Currie Cup rugby is not on the same level as Super Rugby, we have seen a huge improvement throughout the Currie Cup season.
They have made 1361 tackles according to the Vodacom Rugby App and only missed 167 all season and scoring 53 tries which just shows how far they have come.
With a 90% success rate in the lineouts the backline had a brilliant platform to attack from all season and this is were we will see a tight contest on Saturday as both teams will want to get the ascendancy.
The Blue Bulls have proven to be one of the better defensive teams this season and they will want to be on par in the final to stop this try scoring Free State side. As they showed against a good Golden Lions side last week, they can score tries from anywhere on the field and any team they play does not want to get behind on the scoreboard against this rampant Free State side.
No team has kicked more than the Bulls in this year’s Currie Cup but the difference between the Blue Bulls and other sides was that they were able to turn kicks into attacking opportunities and points. Kicking with purpose have been a strong aspect of so many Blue Bulls teams over the years and this one is following suit.
One should not be blinded by the Blue Bulls kicking game as they have the joint-top-try-scorer Jamba Ulengo in their side. We saw some of the best tries being scored by this Blue Bulls side this year and off the two teams the Blue Bulls may just have the edge as the more balance side between the two which normally serves one well in finals.
With both teams having great kickers to tally up the points one can expect them to try and make as little mistakes as possible. This final may well be decided by the boot which will add some extra pressure on them.
There are so many match ups between these two teams which just added to the expectation of yet another mouth-watering Currie Cup final on Saturday.
Previous Currie Cup Final Results
|2006||Blue Bulls & Free State Cheetahs||N/A||28–28|
|2007||Free State Cheetahs||Golden Lions||20–18|
|2009||Blue Bulls||Free State Cheetahs||36–24|
|2014||Western Province||Golden Lions||19–16|
|2015||Golden Lions||Western Province||32–24|
Prediction: I had a feeling that the whole week that the Blue Bulls will come and surprise the Cheetahs at home but on the realistic side one have to admire the way the Free State have played this year dominating games throughout. They also play at home and at the end I give it to the Cheetahs by less than seven points.
Teams for the Final:
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Tier Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Armandt Koster, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Rayno Benjamin, 23 Conraad van Vuuren.
Blue Bulls – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha (c), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Nic de Jager, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Bjorn Basson.