Congratulations to the Bulls and their fans for winning the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked. It was well deserved as they shown the best form throughout the competition, but now it is time for the start of the Carling Currie Cup.
In the opening weekend we have the Sharks v the Pumas in Durban, Xerox Lions v Griquas in Johannesburg and the big one this weekend take us to Newlands where Province will face the Bulls for the last time at the iconic stadium.
The Sharks will host the Pumas in the opening round of this years Currie Cup on Friday in Durban.
The Sharks are coming off a weekend off after COVID protocols saw their match against the Stormers being called off. The Pumas fought bravely against the Bulls last weekend and will want to build on that second half performance.
This is not a given for the Sharks and they will have to come out to play otherwise the Pumas may just cause the first surprise of the competition in round 1.
We have not yet seen the same quality from the Sharks as we saw earlier this year in the Super Rugby and they will be the first to admit that. The Currie Cup gives them the perfect platform to get back to the same type of performances we saw from them earlier this year.
They will still be without their captain Am, which sees Jeremy Ward leading the side again. Fans will also be happy to see Springbok Thomas du Toit back in the starting side.
There will be a lot of eyes on former Junior Bok, JJ van der Mescht who moves from lock to the side of the scrum for this one, while Bholi will slot in at the number 8 position this weekend.
In the backs we see Manie Libbok comeing in for Volmink.
Jimmy Stonehouse has made a few changes to his side that went down against the Bulls last weekend, but one has to remember he had to make a lot of changes last week due to players not ready after COVID protocols.
For the Pumas, they need to show they have the players and team to compete, and a good showing and even a win will go a long way for Stonehouse and his players.
Prediction: Sharks at home, we expect a win from the home side by 9
Cell C Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Thembelani Bholi, 7 JJ van der Mescht, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Zain Davids, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Sbu Nkosi.
Phakisa Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Francois Kleinhans, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Janse van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 HP van Schoor, 1 Liam Hendricks. Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Wikus Groenewald, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Heath Backhouse, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Wayne van der Bank, 22 Tapiwa Mafura, 23 Dewald Maritz.
One of the unluckiest teams in the Super Rugby Unlocked was the Lions who saw two off their matches called off due to COVID protocols.
They have some work to do to catch up with the front runners and playing their first one away from home against Griquas in Kimberley will not be easy.
Griquas did not manage a win on the Super Rugby Unlocked although they came close several times. With a lot of players leaving the union during the competition, it also did not help the northern cape side.
At home Griquas is a total different side and the Lions will have to be on par from the first whistle.
Only one point separate the teams last season which make this a clash you should not miss on Saturday.
Their last game at home was against the Sharks and they should have won that one and only a penalty from Bosch after the hooter saw them loosing the match.
There is a few debutants for the home side in James Verity-Amm, Daniel Kasende, Adre Smith and HJ Luus.
We also see Johan Momsen playing in the number eight jumper this weekend
The Lions will have some Springboks back in their side with Jaco Kriel, Willem Alberts and Ruan Dreyer.
EW Viljoen is the only change in the backline as he comes in the for the injured Gianni Lombard.
Predictions: This is a difficult one to call but we do believe the Lions will be too strong for Griquas.
Tafel Lager Griquas: 15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Johan Momsen, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Carl Els, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Andre Swarts, 23 Enver Brandt, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Ewan Coetzee, 26 Masixole Banda.
Xerox Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Ross Cronjé, 21 Dan Kriel, 22 Tiaan Swanepoel, 23 Jannie du Plessis, 24 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 25 Manuel Rass.
The big one this weekend in Round 1 is definitely the old rivals that will clash for one last time at Newlands on Saturday.
Western Province will host the Blue Bulls in what is shaping up as one of the big one’s this season. The Bulls destroyed the Stormers a few weeks ago at Loftus and their will be a lot of feeling on the park when the two side meet.
For Province, it has been a timely return for their captain Siya Kolisi who will lead them onto the field. One can arguable say that we will see two of the best leaders taking their sides into battle with Vermeulen leading the Pretoria side.
The Bulls last won at Newlands in 2016 and they will come hard and long at Province to change that bit of history on Saturday.
The Bulls form has been great and Jake White has change this average Bulls side into a winning combination.
This will be a physical as they come with both packs that will go out to take ascendancy early on and provide their exciting backs with good ball.
A bonus point win for Province on Saturday will push them to the front of the log and the best possible way to start their Currie Cup campaign.
This is two great teams on paper that will clash this weekend and one just hope that they can produce the quality we expect from them.
Prediction: Another difficult one so we go on form, which are the Bulls and we predict a win by 8 for the Pretoria boys
DHL Western Province: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Kwenzo Blose, 19 Neethling Fouche, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Chris van Zyl, 22 Jaco Coetzee, 23 Marcel Theunissen, 24 Godlen Masimla, 25 Tim Swiel, 26 Ruhan Nel.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.