Currie Cup Round 7 Preview

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

Western Province continue in pole as we head into Round 7 of this year’s Currie Cup, and their presence at the top was certainly validated this past weekend by their impressive 18-29 bashing of the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld. The Sharks only just managed to retain their second spot privileges by wearing down a determined Griquas side in Kimberley, ending the game a mere point ahead of the locals, returning the favour from the opening round where Pote Human’s charges snuck a two point victory at Kings Park. The Cheetahs managed to get back to winning ways with a hard fought 26-23 victory in Bloemfontein against an increasingly inconsistent Lions outfit. This resulted in the only change to the table this week as the Cheetahs and Lions swop spots in the middle, the Cheetahs moving up to third with the Lions trailing by a single point.

Western Province v Griquas | Friday 20 September | Newlands | 19:10
Western Province remain unbeaten in the Currie Cup this season, but don’t take that to mean that a Round 7 victory is assured. We have seen Griquas push almost every side close in the competition this year, including Province, fortunate in managing their uncomfortable 19-20 victory in Kimberley a few weeks back.

To Win (80mins)
Western Province 1/8
Griquas 9/2
Draw 34/1

Western Province (-13.5) 9/10
Griquas (+13.5) 9/10

Allister Coetzee has made just two changes to his side for this weekend’s fixture against Griquas, with Rohan Kitshoff starting at flank in the absence of Michael Rhodes, who has been handed a one-match suspension for stamping during last weekend’s clash with the Bulls. Demetri Catrakilis returns from fitness to offer cover for pivot Kurt Coleman.

Injuries continue to plague poor Pote Human, who will have to do without fullback PJ Vermeulen and lock Victor Kruger, both having broken their ankles against the Sharks last week. Carel Greef has also been ruled out after breaking his hand in the same game. Leon Karemaker returns from injury to start at number eight this week, while Gouws Prinsloo fills in at fullback. Jean Stemmet comes in at centre, replacing JP Nel who is nursing a knee injury.

VERDICT: Province (-13.5) 9/10
That ever-growing injury list is going to prove too tough for Pote Human and his charges. Province by 20.

Sharks v Free State Cheetahs | Saturday 21 September | Kings Park | 15:00
The Sharks managed to come away with a win against the Cheetahs in Bloem, back in the second round of clashes. But with the Cheetahs currently just three points behind the Sharks on the table, they will be heading down to Durban with one objective in mind, usurping second spot

To Win (80mins)
Sharks 5/10
Cheetahs 31/20
Draw 29/1

Sharks (-4.5) 9/10
Cheetahs (+4.5) 9/10

The Sharks are planning on making several rotational changes this week in a bid to keep their players fresh. This implies the likely inclusion of Springbok Marcell Coetzee, centre Heimar Williams, Tera Mtembu and the evasive Odwa Ndungane in the starting XV to give some of the harder worked members of the squad a much deserved breather.

Naka Drotske has made only one change to the side that snuck a narrow victory over the Lions last weekend. Lock Lood de Jager reclaims his spot in the second row at the expense of Teboho Mohoje, who drops to the bench. Davon Raubenheimer managed to hold onto his spot at the back of the scrum despite the return to fitness of Cheetahs’ bruiser Philip van der Walt. Van der Walt helps make up the bench this week along with evasive speedster Rayno Benjamin, also returning from injury.

VERDICT: Sharks (-4.5) 9/10
If the Sharks can keep level composure on the field against the visiting Cheetahs this weekend then they shouldn’t have too much of a hassle picking up the points. But a repeat of last week’s poor discipline and shoddy handling that the Sharks displayed during the first half of their match against Griquas will only yield poor results for the home side. The Sharks by 10.

Golden Lions v Blue Bulls | Saturday 21 September | Ellis Park | 17:05
The Bulls are yet to win on the road in this year’s competition, but Ellis Park is as good a place as any to start. A win over the Lions here will go a long way in helping this underperforming Blue Bulls side avoid a place in the promotion/relegation series later this year.

To Win (80mins)
Lions 5/10
Bulls 16/10
Draw 29/1

Lions (-5.5) 9/10
Bulls (+5.5) 9/10

Following his side’s poor showing against Province last Saturday, Pine Pienaar has decided to shake things up in his team selection with six changes named for this week’s must-win clash against the Lions. Springbok speedster Bjorn Basson returns for Bulls duty this weekend, replacing Sampie Mastriet on the left wing. Jurgen Visser hands over the number 15 jersey to Clayton Blommetjies. The inclusion of Tony Jantjies at pivot means we could see him come up against his more experienced brother Elton, which could make for interesting viewing. Waylon Murray drops right out of the match day 22, with Ulrich Beyers taking over at outside centre. In the forwards, Wilhelm Steenkamp comes in for Grant Hattingh in the second row, Werner Kruger cracks the nod at tighthead and Bandise Maku comes in at hooker for his first start of the season.

Lions’ coach Johan Ackermann is holding out on his final team announcements, but he will more than likely be looking to recreate the combination that resulted in his side’s 62-32 brutal annihilation of the revered Blue Bulls at the once sacred Loftus Versfeld back in the third round.

VERDICT: Lions (-5.5) 9/10
Like I said earlier, the Bulls have failed to win out on the road so far in this year’s competition. Combine that with the fact that the memory of that 62-23 desecration of the Bulls at Loftus remains fresh in the minds of Pine Pienaar’s charges as they head for Ellis Park, I just don’t see the men from the capital pulling off the win this week. The Lions by 8.

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

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