Lions vs Western Province - Currie Cup Semi Final Preview

Lions vs Western Province | Saturday 20 October | Coca-Cola Park | 18:45

The Golden Lions take on Western Province at Coca-Cola Park in the second semi-final of the Currie Cup this weekend, and the contrasting decisions of the two respective coaches regarding the playing or resting of their Springboks last weekend may play a big role in the outcome of this match. Allister Coetzee decided to load up his Western Province team that, last week, sent the Cheetahs into the promotion-relegation match that will take place this Friday. Johan Ackerman on the other hand, decided to rest many of his key players in their match against the Blue Bulls knowing that his team had already ensured themselves a home semi, regardless of the outcome of the game. Western Province have now lost three key players to injury, while the Lions will be taking a gamble with what may be rusty player combinations in a must-win match for both sides.

To Win (80mins)
Lions 13/10
Western Province 6/10
Draw 28/1

Handicap
Lions (+2.5) 17/20
Western Province (-2.5) 17/20

Lions
Johan Ackerman has made 11 changes to the side that lost to the Blue Bulls last weekend, and it will be interesting to see if his decision to rest so many players in that game will pay off as the Lions attempt to retain the Currie Cup. Butch James moves to the bench as newly capped Springbok Elton Jantjies returns to flyhalf. Butch, who captained the team last week, turned down the opportunity to move to inside-centre for this weekend’s semi-final clash as he prefers not to play out of position. JC Janse van Rensburg reclaims the captaincy and his place in the front row, where he joins Jocobie Adriaanse and Calie Visagie. Franco van der Merwe teams up with Michael Rhodes in the second row, and Warren Whiteley will be pulling on the number 8 jersey this week. Outside-centre Jaco Taute could stand out in this game in an attempt to make the number 13 Springbok jersey his own, as resident Springbok outside-centre Jean de Villiers is out due to injury.

Western Province
Allister Coetzee will be feeling the pressure ahead of this semi final clash as injuries begin to plague his team at the worst possible time. Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the remainder of the Currie Cup with a hamstring problem with loose forward Deon Fourie to take over as captain, while Marcel Brache will start at inside-centre in de Villiers’ absence. Andries Bekker has also been ruled out with injury, meaning Eben Etzebeth will team up in the second row a man with two last names, De Kock Steenkamp. Tiaan Liebenberg is another key player that finds himself on the injured list for the remainder of the competition and he is replaced by Scarra Ntubeni in the front row. The only other change to the starting line-up is an unforced one, being the inclusion of Gio Aplon at fullback at the expense of Joe Pietersen who is dropped to the bench.

VERDICT: Lions 13/10
The Lions have fresh players at their disposal and have a great looking team that has been the least affected by Springbok selections and returns out of the top five unions this Currie Cup season. Home ground advantage, a desire to retain the cup again to show SARU how ridiculous the decision to replace them in the Super 15 next year was, and a well rested team playing against a team that has lost too many core players at this stage of the competition leads me to believe the Lions will take this game. A Lions win at 13/10, steering clear of the handicap, is my tip here.

Written by @QuintenLetcher for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

Think we've got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this one is going to play out.