Currie Cup: Golden Lions v Cheetahs Preview

The Golden Lions take on the Cheetahs on Saturday the 14th of October, Emirates Airline Park.

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To Win Match
Lions 4/10 | Draw 28/1 | Cheetahs 18/10

Lions (-9.5) 17/20 Cheetahs (+9.5) 17/20* Please note expected handicap

Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs
14 October 17h15
Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

The Lions have been boosted by the return of several key Springboks ahead of their must-win clash against the Cheetahs on Saturday. Both sides will be hoping that the Sharks do them a favour and beat Western Province earlier on in the day; denying them two bonus-points along the way. Such an outcome would see the winner of the cat-fight in Johannesburg sneak into second-place, and thus qualify for a home semi-final next week. It really is all on the line this weekend…

Ross Cronjé, Courtnall Skosan, Andries Coetzee, Malcolm Marx and Ruan Dreyer, Springboks all, have been given the green light to represent the Lions for the remainder of the Currie Cup. Several years ago, it would have been unfathomable to suggest that the Lions would have the luxury of welcoming back so many national players. And yet this is the very situation afforded to coach Swys de Bruin ahead of the weekend, and the 57-year-old must surely be licking his chops at such a prospect.

If the past is anything to go by, however, de Bruin will understand that such an opportunity is not without its pitfalls. Footballers who have played the whole regular season tend to lose their places in the run-on XV when the Springboks return, and this can often lead to disharmony amongst the group. De Bruin should be wary of this ahead of Saturday, but will more than likely back himself to select his strongest possible side – discord or no.
The Lions’ scintillating attack will only be buoyed by the return of Courtnall Skosan and should pose too many problems for a Cheetahs defence that has leaked 123-points in their last two games. The hosts should waltz to a win to book their place in this season’s playoffs.

What is more to be said about this Cheetahs side? The same old problems just don’t seem to be going away, and it really would be a shame should they struggle to salvage a win on Saturday. Losing 24-59, and then 36-64 on consecutive weekends is inexcusable for a defending champion-side, and it seems an implausible likelihood that they will defend their crown this term.

That said, this Cheetahs side is a proverbial “B” (arguably “C”) team, and not much was expected of them after the Pro14 commenced. It speaks volumes for the competitiveness of this year’s competition that the Free Staters could still end up hosting a semi-final at the conclusion of the weekend, but such a prospect seems unlikely. The Bloemfonteiners should bow out his week.

Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Len Massyn, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen (c).
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Rhyno Herbst, 19 Robert Kruger/ Hacjivah Dayimani, 20 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Sylvian Mahuza

FS Cheetahs: 15 Raymond Rhule, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Nico Lee, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Oupa Mohoje, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justoin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Charles Marais
Subs: 16 Ox Nche, 17 Hacques du Toit, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Junior Pokomela, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Ali Mjijima, 22 Luther Obi

Verdict: Lions (-9.5) 17/20* Please note expected handicap
No two ways about it, the Lions’ offensive game will be far too much for these Cheetahs to handle. They may manage a few scores of their own off turnover ball, but will ultimately finish second in this one. The Lions meanwhile, may just have a shot at sneaking a home semi. Albeit by the skin of their great teeth.