With the Rugby World Cup kicking off last week and the shocked loss of the Springboks in their first game against the Japanese it seems many have forgotten about that small little thing that we call the Currie Cup.
With the Blue Bulls and the Lions driving the pack this year with some exciting rugby, we had the last couple of weeks the Western Province side also starting to hit there stipes and joining the exciting brand of rugby that is being played currently in the Currie Cup.
This week we have a full schedule of some exciting clashes to see who will make the play-offs this year and be crowned champions next month.
First up this week is most properly the game of the weekend when the Sharks and the Blue Bulls fight it out in round 8.
Cell C Sharks vs Vodacom Blue Bulls Friday 25 Sept “Live” on SS1
The Blue Bulls have lost two straight games in a row the past few weeks against the Lions and Province after having a great run in from the start of the season.
The Blue Bulls have looked good in all matches and could have even beaten the Lions two weeks ago at Loftus but even they will admit that last week’s performance against Province was way below par for this exciting team.
They bolster a great mix of young exciting talent with some experience heads in this year’s Currie Cup and allot have been spoken about the new brand of rugby they play. This week will not be easy to pick themselves up and get back to winning ways against the Cell C Sharks.
The Sharks have been playing some descend rugby this whole season but were only able to do this in small patches. The team has all the abilities to be up there with the best but some injuries and indifferent game plans in some games made this a real stop start season for the Sharks.
For the Blue Bulls, Jan Serfontein will return to the midfield with Swanepoel rotating to the bench. Schoeman is also back at ten for the Blue Bulls.
The Sharks will start the game with a new captain in Van der Walt with Wentzel playing off the bench.
Friday, 25 September
Cell C Sharks vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
The other televise on Saturday is between the Golden Lions and the Free State Cheetahs…
Free State Cheetahs vs Golden Lions on Saturday 26 Sept on SS1 “Live”
The Lions have been the team of the Currie Cup so far and by far the best performing team in the competition having won all their games so far this season. They are almost certain already of making the play-offs and will be playing now to ensure a home semi-final and possible final.
The Cheetahs have been busy with a re-building phase this year as they have been given a new coach who is still building the team around his game plan and vision. They are almost in the same boat as the Sharks with their consistency during this year’s Currie Cup and will want to start showing their coach that they are moving forward.
The Lions will be a difficult costumer and they will have to give it all to upset the log leaders at this stage of the competition.
Excitement has always been the key word when these guys have been playing each other and one can expect the same comes Saturday.
Saturday 26 September
Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs Xerox Golden Lions
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Other games this weekend:
Western Province vs Steval Pumas
In the remaining fixtures, 2014 winners the DHL Western Province are at home against the Steval Pumas. This match at the DHL Newlands Stadium in Cape Town starts at 15h00, while the Eastern Province Kings host the Steval Pumas in Port Elizabeth in a 15h30 fixture.
Western Province will be without influential fullback Cheslin Kolbe and hooker Scarra Ntubeni for this Saturday’s clash against the Pumas in Newlands. Ntubeni has a calf muscle injury and Kolbe has bone bruising on his ankle, both having picked up injuries during WP’s win over the Bulls last weekend. Springbok prop Vincent Koch will make his 50th appearance for the Pumas.
DHL Western Province vs Steval Pumas
Venue: DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
EP Kings vs ORC Griquas
In Port Elizabeth, 31-year-old Steven Robert Sykes will play his 100th Absa Currie Cup game when the EP Kings take on ORC Griquas. Prior to joining the Kings, Sykes represented The Sharks in 90 Absa Currie Cup matches.
Middelburg-born Sykes attended Cradock Primary School and Marlow Agricultural, and represented EP at various age-group levels, including the EP U13 team in 1997 and the EP Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week side in 2002.
In 2003, he joined the Sharks Academy in Durban and that year he also represented South Africa at the IRB Under-19 World Championship. He made his first-class debut for the Natal Wildebeest as a lock during the 2005 Vodacom Cup competition against Border in Durban. He made his Absa Currie Cup debut for the Sharks against Eastern Province in 2005.
He then made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut for the Sharks against the Vodacom Bulls in 2007. In 2009 he featured for the Emerging Springboks against the British and Irish Lions side in Cape Town and was also called into the Springbok squad for the third Test, but remained an unused substitute. A brief stint with Irish side Leinster was followed by a return to the Sharks, before joining the Southern Kings for their debut season in the Vodacom Super Rugby in 2013. He played for the EP Kings Absa Currie Cup team in 2013, when EP reached the First Division final, and 2014, when they were promoted to the Premier Division. He was loaned to the Cheetahs for the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Saturday 26 September
Eastern Province Kings vs ORC Griquas
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth