We preview the second round of Currie Cup fixtures which get underway with a clash between a second-string Lions outfit and the plucky Griquas.
The 2017 Currie Cup got off to a sensational start with all three of last week’s fixtures featuring a plethora of tries. We also got to witness the first upset of the tournament with the Pumas running out seven-point victors over the Lions at the Mbombela Stadium last Sunday.
We look set for another weekend of enthralling action with three tantalising fixtures for punters to sink their teeth into.
Lions v Griquas | Saturday 29 July | Emirates Airline Park | 12:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Lions 42/100 | Draw 28/1 | Griquas 17/10
Lions (-6.5) 17/00 | Griquas (+6.5) 17/20
The first game of the weekend sees a young Lions side take on the Griquas at Emirates Airline Park. The two teams come into this one off the of defeats with the Griquas going down 45-51 to the Bulls and the Lions going down 43-36 to the Pumas.
I really wasn’t impressed by this second-string Lions side, particularly their forward pack who were bullied by the Pumas heavies. The Griquas, like the Pumas, have a solid tight five who will give the Lions also sorts of problems at set piece time.
Verdict: Griquas (+6.5) 17/20
The Lions’ forwards will need to up their performance tenfold if they are to avoid back-to-back defeats. The smart play here is to back the visitors on the plus.
Sharks v Pumas | Saturday 29 July | Growthpoint Kings Park | 17:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Sharks 1/16 | Draw 33/1 | Pumas 13/2
Sharks (-19.5) 8/10 | Pumas (+19.5) 9/10
Like the Lions, the Sharks got their Currie Cup campaign off on the wrong foot as they went down to the Cheetahs in the season opener. It must be noted, however, that the Natalians were without their Super Rugby contingent who were busy giving the Lions’ Super Rugby side a real run for their money in last week’s quarter-final. The Sharks will welcome back the vast majority of their senior statesmen this week with their Super Rugby campaign having come to an end.
The Pumas were the side that impressed me the most in the opening round. They had lost to the Lions three times in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge prior to last Sunday’s fixture but there were certainly no psychological scars running through the squad as they out-muscled, out thought and – whisper it – out ran the Lions.
Verdict: Pumas (+19.5) 9/10
I just think this handicap is too high. Yes, the Sharks have their big guns back but they’re coming off a heavy Super Rugby season and it may take them a few rounds for them to get used to the more open rugby that is going to be synonymous with this year’s Currie Cup.
Free State Cheetahs v Western Province | Sunday 30 July | Toyota Stadium | 14:30
To Win (80 Mins)
Cheetahs 1/1 | Draw 25/1 | Western Province 7/10
The highlight of this weekend’s fixtures will undoubtedly be Sunday’s clash between the Cheetahs and Western Province. The hosts once again underlined their incredible attacking prowess as they scored some brilliant tries during their victory over the Sharks. They will face a much stiffer test this time around however as Western Province will have most of their Super Rugby contingent available.
Verdict: Cheetahs 1/1
I have to go with the Cheetahs here. The Province boys will still be rather jaded from last weekend’s defeat to the Chiefs while the Free Staters have already got past their disappointing Super Rugby campaign.