Currie Cup: Round 7 Preview

We look at the Round 7 Currie Cup action which gets underway with a Friday evening clash between the Pumas and Bulls. 

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The upsets and high-scoring affairs just keep on coming in this year’s Currie Cup. Not only did we see the Pumas get one over the in-form Griquas, but were treated to an absolute epic between the Bulls and the Cheetahs, with the latter pipping the former 40-41 at Loftus.

We’re for another cracking week of rugby as we reach the midway point of this year’s competition. The highlight of this weekend’s programme will undoubtedly be the Coastal Derby between Province and the Sharks at Newlands, which is one of two fixtures being played on Saturday.

Pumas v Blue Bulls | Friday 25 August | Mbombela Stadium | 19:00

To Win (80 Min)
Pumas | Draw | Bulls 
Pumas (+7.5) 9/10 | Bulls (-7.5) 9/10 *Please note this is a forecast handicap.

The luckless Bulls really need to bag the full five-points here but face a stiff challenge in the form of a confidence-filled Pumas outfit. The hosts for this weekend’s affair ran out 21-27 victors at Tafel Lager Park last weekend. Their victory over the Griquas was rather unexpected, as the men from Kimberly were in sparkling form leading up to that game.

The Bulls didn’t fair near as well last week as they went down to the Cheetahs in a high scoring match. That result has left Nollie Marais’ men seven-points off the final home semi berth and a point off the fourth-placed Griquas. The Bulls are once again struggling with injuries and with Warrick Gelant likely to be part of the Springbok squad to tour Argentina and Duncan Matthews suspended, Pretoria’s representative in the competition may find themselves without a recognised fullback this weekend.

Verdict: Bulls (-7.5) 9/10 *Please note this is a forecast handicap
Although I suspect this handicap will be higher at the time of release, -7.5 seems a gift. In fact, I reckon the Bulls will win it by 10 or more. I think the Pumas will try and attack from too deep in their own half and allow the Bulls to boss the territory stakes.

Western Province v Natal Sharks | Saturday 26 August | DHL Newlands | 15:00 

To Win (80 Mins)
Province | Draw | Sharks
Province (-3.5) 9/10 | Sharks (+3.5) 9/10 *Please note this is a forecast handicap

The Sharks make their return from their bye week with a tricky away game against a Province side that has come on leaps and bounds over the past fortnight. The Natalians saw the Cheetahs leapfrog them into top position on the log last weekend and Robert du Preez’s men will be desperate to return to the top of the standings. Province currently occupies third position on the log, but a victory here would see them draw level on points with their coastal rivals.

Province was sensational last week as they ran out 39-3 victors over the Lions to claim their victory of the seasons. The Sharks squad got to watch that game from the comfort of their couches, and they’ll know all too well to not underestimate their opponents after seeing them destroy the Lions. Prior to their break, the Natalians had won four out of five games with their only loss coming to the Cheetahs in the opening round.

Verdict: Western Province 9/10 (-3.5)*Please note this is a forecast handicap
This young Western Province side really looked to have come of age against the Lions last week. Yes, their opponents were horrendous but the Province backs were clinical on both attack and defence. My money is on them getting one of the Sharks this weekend – get on the home win!

Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions | Saturday 26 August | Toyota Stadium | 17:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Cheetahs | Draw | Lions
Cheetahs (-11.5) 9/10 | Lions (+11.5) 9/10 *Please note this is a forecast handicap

The hapless Lions will be looking to keep their slim hopes of a home semi-final alive when they take on the Cheetahs. The men from Johannesburg have enjoyed a torrid season with Springbok call-ups and their extended Super Rugby campaign hindering their performances in the Currie Cup. The Cheetahs, on the other hand, have been a cut above once again this term and have only lost one of their five games.
The Lions will need to sure up their defence if they are to trouble the Free Staters. The visitors were also horrific with ball-in-hand last week but I see that as a momentary blip rather than an attacking crisis.

Verdict: Lions (+11.5) 9/10*Please note this is a forecast handicap
Swys de Bruin’s side has really struggled this term but they will surely turn the corner at some point. And while I think the Cheetahs will take the points here, the Lions should be able to put up enough of a fight to stay within a very high handicap.  

Written by Darry Worthington for

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