There's a shortened Currie Cup fixtures list and some unfamiliar kick-off times this week with COVID seeing the Cheetahs versus Bulls game cancelled and the implementation of a new curfew which has resulted in earlier kick-off slots for the two remaining Round 3 fixtures.
While we have lost a game, we are still in for a solid week of Currie Cup action as the country’s coastal rivalry is renewed with the Sharks and Western Province locking horns in Durban on Wednesday evening.
We then head inland on Friday for a battle between the two minnows with the Pumas playing host to the Griquas..
Sharks v Western Province
Wednesday 30 June
To Win (80 Mins)
Western Province 13/10
Western Province (+3.5) 17/20
Sharks (-3.5) 17/20
Both Province’s and the Sharks’ depth is being tested in this Currie Cup campaign with the two sides missing a number of big names who are away with the Springboks. Still, both teams have some premier talent on their books with the likes of Curwin Bosch, Manie Lebbok, Seabelo Senatla and Hacjivah Dayimani all set to take to the field this coming weekend.
The visitors struggled last weekend as they went down 38-32 to the Lions in Johannesburg. They were lured into a very open game of rugby by the free-running Lions and took the bait when they should have looked at employing a more conservative approach. They will need to get their game plan spot on against the Sharks as the KZN side are unlikely to concede as many try-scoring opportunities as the Lions did this past weekend.
While Province were getting outscored by the Lions, the Sharks were sitting back watching events unfold as they enjoyed a bye week. Sean Everitt’s men have only played one game so far in this year’s Currie Cup, which was against the Griquas in Round 1. They managed to register an impressive 16-30 victory out in Kimberly, which is a good sign considering they have struggled at the venue in the past.
Verdict: Sharks (-3.5) 17/20
I really do like the look of this Sharks outfit. They have some impressive young talent in the forward pack and the back stocks are full of experienced campaigners. My money is on the hosts taking this one by more than five points.
Pumas v Griquas
Friday 2 July
To Win (80 Mins) *Odds TBA
It’s not often that I look forward to a clash between the Currie Cups two minnows more than games between the big guns, but this fixture absolutely intrigues me.
Both the Griquas and Pumas have given the big boys a run for their money this term with the hosts for this weekend beating the Lions 39-10 in Round 1 before losing to the Bulls by just five points (32-27) this past weekend.
Like the Pumas, the Griquas have also managed to get one over the big guns as they registered a 31-10 win over the Cheetahs last weekend. It must be noted, however, that this was a Cheetahs side full of green Varsity Cup graduates.
Both these sides have capable try scorers on their books, with the dangerous Masixole Banda proving to be one of the most dangerous outside backs in the tournament so far for Griquas and try-scoring machine Etienne Taljaard set for an appearance on the wing for the Pumas.
Verdict: Pumas minus (Odds TBA)
The Pumas were absolutely phenomenal last weekend and they were unlucky to go down to a Bulls side that was loaded with formers Springboks. If they are anywhere near as good as they were in Round 2, I can see them walking away with a comfortable win this Friday afternoon.