The Currie Cup action continues this weekend and we’ve got some evenly matched contests in store with the minnows squaring off in the weekend’s opener and then two games which will see the big guns collide.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Pumas v GriquasFriday 4 December
To Win Match
HandicapPumas (+3.5) 9/10
Griquas (-3.5) 9/10
We open things up in Nelspruit where the Pumas will tackle the Griquas. Both teams had rather disappointing opening rounds with the Pumas hammered 45-10 by the Sharks and the Griquas going down 17-20 to the Lions in a game that was called off after just 48 minutes due to a thunderstorm. The Griquas will be sickened that their game was called of early. They’d have backed themselves to get over the line against the Lions as they had strong wind at their backs in the second half.
When these two sides met in Super Rugby Unlocked it was the Pumas who emerged victorious with this weekend’s hosts running out 21-27 victors. The Griquas took the spoils when the two sides met during last year’s Currie Cup, with the men from Kimberley winning 37-29.
Verdict: Griquas 6/10I was really impressed by the Griquas last week, and if they play with the same tempo here I reckon they’ll take the spoils in Nelspruit.
Blue Bulls v Free State CheetahsSaturday 5 December
To Win MatchBulls 2/9
Bulls (-10.5) 9/10
Cheetahs (+10.5) 9/10
The Cheetahs will get their Currie Cup campaign underway at Loftus where they’ll meet a Bulls side who were beneficiaries of a smash and grab in the Cape.
The hosts pulled off one of the biggest robberies in Currie Cup history as they scored an injury time try to beat Western Province 20-22 in the Mother City. Not only did they manage to snatch the win at the death, but they also did this having played the majority of the second-half with 14 men as prop Jaques van Rooyen was red carded for a dangerous tackle on former teammate, Warrick Gelant.
This will be the Cheetahs’ first match of the Currie Cup but the men from the Free State know they are already playing catch up as due to Super Rugby Unlocked points being carried over into the this competition. They currently sit ten points off the log-leading Bulls and, a loss here would really hamper their chances.
The Cheetahs were the only team to beat the Bulls in Super Rugby Unlocked as they downed the tournament winners 19-17 at the Toyota Stadium.
Verdict: Cheetahs (+10.5) 9/10
The last game the two sides contested ended up being a rather cagey affair. I’m expecting a much more free-flowing game this time around. As such, my main target will be the Live In Play overs points markets. If pressed to tip a winner, I’d back the Bulls but not by a lot.
Golden Lions v Western ProvinceSaturday 5 December
Emirates Airline Park
To Win MatchLions 13/10
Lions (+3.5) 9/10
Province (-3.5) 9/10
The round will come to a close out in Johannesburg where the Lions will tackle Western Province. The hosts for this weekend will be thanking the rain gods as they were struggling to keep a dogged Griquas side at bay when they heavens opened up last Saturday evening, with the ensuing stoppage of the game seeing the Lions claim a three point victory over the men from Kimberley.
Province, on the other hand, will be ruing their luck as they went down right at the death to the Bulls. While they will feel they were somewhat unfortunate to lose the game, the fact is they failed to capitalize on their superior numbers after the Bulls went down to 14 men.
When these two sides met in Super Rugby Unlocked the game ended in a rather controversial manner with the referee failing to award the Lions a rather clear cut penalty that would have seen Ivan van Rooyen’s men have a lineout deep inside Province’s territory. This didn’t occur, however, and the Lions ultimately lost the game 23-17.
Verdict: Lions 13/10Like the Bulls game, my main focus will be on the overs points markets. I also have this sneaky feeling that the Lions may just cause a shock in Johannesburg this Saturday.
Written by Darry Worthington.