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Currie Cup: Round 2 Preview
Our rugby writer takes a look at the second week of 2016 Currie Cup action which kicks off this Friday with a clash between the Kings and Cavaliers.
So, we saw all the favourites clear the minus handicap in the first week with the Bulls hammering a young Western Province outfit, the Sharks waltzing to a comfortable victory over the Pumas and the Cheetahs seeing off Boland without really breaking a sweat.
Round two should be less cut and dry, despite the Sharks and Lions likely to clear their respective handicaps, as the Kings square off with Boland in what is sure to be a hotly contested game and the Bulls travel to Free State in a game that’s likely to see both teams put a plethora of points on the board.
Eastern Province Kings v Boland Cavaliers | Friday 12 August | Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium | 17:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Kings 8/15 | Draw 17/1 | Cavaliers 13/8
Kings (-5.5) 9/10 | Cavaliers (+5.5) 9/10
*Please note that all the odds that appear in this piece are the expected odds. The confirmed odds will be added upon release.
This is a bit of a tough one to call with a very inexperienced Kings side taking on a Boland outfit who struggled against the Cheetahs last weekend. Kings' head coach and former Springbok prop, Robbie Kempson, has a near impossible task of ensuring these young Kings players don’t get routed in all of their eight fixtures.
The Cavaliers gave a decent account of themselves in the first half of their clash with the Cheetahs but were blown away by an early second half scoring blitz from the Free Staters. There are some positives for the men from Boland to draw upon from their 28 point defeat, but they will need to ensure they don’t concede soft second half tries if they are to claim victory this weekend.
The two sides met during the Currie Cup Qualifying series with Boland winning the encounter 37-18.
Verdict: Boland 13/8
The Kings’ tight-five will struggle against a much stronger Boland pack. I think Boland’s dominance at the set piece will see them to a victory down in the Eastern Cape.
Natal Sharks v Griquas | Friday 12 August | Growthpoint Kings Park | 19:10
To Win (80 Mins)
Sharks 1/20 | Draw 33/1 | Griquas 7/1
Sharks (-22.5) 9/10 | Griquas (+22.5)
The Sharks take on the Griquas in Friday’s final fixture. The Natalians got their campaign off to a solid, if not spectacular, start by defeating the Pumas 33-10 in Nelspruit.
The Sharks owe last week’s victory to their forward pack who were incredibly dominant. They will once again look to their ’heavies’ to get them the upper hand this weekend.
Coach Robert du Preez will also hope that exciting young pivot Innie Radebe can spark some life into a rather lacklustre backline division. Radebe, who impressed in the flyhalf berth during the second half against the Pumas, takes over at ten from Curwin Bosch who shifts to fullback.
The Griquas were given the opening round off due to the whole Kings participation saga. The men from the Northern Cape enjoyed a stellar qualifying campaign, winning 11 of their 14 fixtures on the way to securing a second place finish.
Peter Engledow's side has proved a bit of a bogey team for the Sharks in the past but they have mainly given the Natalians a real run out in Kimberley and not in Durban.
Verdict: Sharks (-20.5) 9/10
This young Sharks backline is yet to convince but their pack are one of the strongest in the competition. The men from Natal should be able to maul and scrum their way to a comfortable home victory on Friday.
Golden Lions v Pumas | Saturday 13 August | Emirates Airline Park | 15:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Lions 1/50 | Draw 33/1 | Pumas 9/1
Lions (-28.5) 9/10 | Pumas (+28.5) 9/10
The Pumas have become a bit of a feeder club for the Lions over the past few years with both Faf de Klerk and Corne Fourie having made the move from Nelspruit to Johannesburg at the turn of the year. The defending champions will be without the services of de Klerk for the majority of the Currie Cup, however, as the tough as nail nine is on duty with the Springboks.
The former Pumas man isn’t the only player that will be missing for the Lions during their title defence with Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck, Julian Redelinghuis, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, and Elton Janjties all called up to Allister Coetzee’s Rugby Championship squad. Despite losing a large amount of their stalwarts, the Lions do still have some of their Super Rugby stars available with talented inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and winger Courtnall Skosan being overlooked by Coetzee. They also have veteran campaigners Howard Mnisi and Ross Cronje to call upon.
The Pumas squad is a lot more threadbare than the Lions. Like most of South Africa’s smaller unions, the composition of the Pumas side is made up of a few exciting youngsters and a host of veteran journeymen. This group did put in a decent showing against the Sharks last week but their pack was unable to really compete with the Sharks tight-five.
Verdict: Lions (-28.5) 9/10
I can see the lions bouncing back from the disappointment of Wellington with a large victory over the Pumas.
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls | Saturday 13 August | Toyota Stadium | 17:10
To Win (80 Mins)
Cheetahs 22/10 | Draw 25/1 | Bulls 7/20
Cheetahs (+7.5) 17/20 | Bulls (-7.5) 17/20
The game of the round has been saved for last with the Cheetahs squaring off against the Bulls late on Saturday afternoon. Both sides were impressive last week with the Cheetahs grabbing a 44-16 victory over Boland and the Bulls hammering Western Province 45-26.
Both sides have managed to retain the majority of their Super Rugby campaigners which means we should be in for a quality game this Saturday.
Two of the last three clashes between these two sides have seen a total score in excess of 50 points. The Bulls have won all five the last five Currie Cup encounters between the duo. They managed to do the double over the Cheetahs last year winning the first game by seven points and the second by 38.
Verdict: Bulls (-7.5) 9/10
I was really impressed by the manner in which the Bulls swatted aside Western Province last Friday. Their backline looked a lot less timid than they did during the Super Rugby season which bodes well for their Currie Cup title aspirations. I can see the Bulls coming out on top in what should be a rather grand spectacle.