Currie Cup: Western Province v Griquas Preview

Western Province will be looking to bounce back from their humbling at the hands of the Pumas when they take on the Griquas at DHL Newlands on Saturday the 23rd of September.

This talented young Western Province team finds itself in a spot of bother with only four round-robin fixtures left until the semi-finals get underway. The men from the Western Cape currently occupy the last semi-final berth and really need to start claiming the full-five point hauls if they are to enjoy hosting rights to one of the two semi-finals.

Their opponents for this weekend, the Griquas, can still qualify for the semis although, in reality, this is only a mathematical possibility as the men from Kimberley look a spent force.

A bonus point victory for the hosts this weekend would drastically increase their chance of securing a home semi-final berth. And that's exactly what they will be gunning for come kick-off on Saturday.

Western Province v Griquas | Saturday 23 September | DHL Newlands | 17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Province 1/25 | Draw 35/1 | Griquas 15/2

Western Province
Make no bones about it, this is a massive week for John Dobson's side. While they still have four games to go - they actually have a game in hand over every other side in the tournament bar the Bulls - the bonus point wins need to start coming soon as their main rivals for the second semi-final berth, the Golden Lions, are finally starting to look like a competent rugby side again.

Life would have been much easier for the 'Blue and White Hoops' had they been more clinical against the Pumas last weekend. Having built up a solid enough nine-point half-time lead one would have expected Province to kick on from there. Those expectations proved fanciful, however, as the Pumas came storming back into the scoring 19 unanswered points during the second stanza, which robbed Province not only of a win but also a vital losing bonus point.

While it certainly won't have been all sunshine and roses down at Western Province HQ this past week, there would have been a few smiles when Damien de Allende, Dylan Leyds and Wilco Louw walked through the training ground doors. The trio were part of South Africa's Rugby Championship touring squad and have been released to represent their province this week.

Leyds is likely to come in at 15 in place of Varsity Cup veteran Craig Berry, who has found the step up to Currie Cup level rather hard to make, while De Allende is likely to play off the bench. Wilco Louw's situation is the most interesting as the 'Boks are really short of props at the moment and I can't understand why Alister Coetzee would risk losing another one before the home leg of the Rugby Championship. I think Louw will get ten minutes off the bench at most.

Seasons may come and go but one thing will always remain the same. That constant is the Griquas finishing the Currie Cup outside of the semi-final berths. There was a lot of hope floating around Kimberley before the tournament kicked off with the Griquas solid run to the SuperSport Rugby Challenge final, coupled with the big unions losing a host of players, leading many in Griqualand to believe this could be the year their side makes the play-offs.

That belief was to be shortlived, however, as the Griquas who enjoyed a solid run of form last month, haven't been consistent to really push for a spot in the semis. That's not to say they haven't played some good rugby this term. Far from it in fact, as the defeated SuperSport Rugby Challenge finalists have managed to upset the applecart a few times this term while still playing a solid brand of attacking rugby.

One of their crowning achievements was a 44-34 victory at Tafel Lager Park against this weekend's opponents. They followed that up with a win over what was at the time a rampant Cheetahs side. Then and this underlines their inconsistency, they went down to the Pumas the following weekend. It just seems that the Griquas tend to get themselves up for the games against the bigger unions, which will be somewhat of a worry for Province.

Speaking of the Griquas and bigger unions, this weekend's visitors come into the game off the back of a 22-40 loss to the log-leading Sharks. It wasn't as convincing a defeat as the scoreline will have you believe, as the Griquas opened the scoring and managed to grab another two tries in the second half. They will need to be a lot more defensively astute this weekend if they are to get one over Western Province, though.

In terms of team news, the Griquas will have a new skipper this weekend with regular captain AJ Coertzen dropping to the bench. The fullback's place in the starting XV is taken by Eric Zana while flank Sias Koen will lead the side.

Verdict: Western Province 1/25
The return of Leyds is a massive coupe for Province, as the utility back will provide a threat from deep within his own half. He also has a good understanding with fly-half Damian Willemse, and I expect their combination play to come to the fore here. An attacking masterclass from a reinvigorated Province backline will see them to a big victory - at least by 26 points - this Saturday.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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