Western Province and the Natal Sharks will square off at Newlands this Saturday, with the winner booking a place in the Currie Cup final.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Old foes Western Province and the Natal Sharks will square off at Newlands this weekend in what should be a pulsating Currie Cup semi-final. Both teams will be desperate to ensure that this isn’t their final game of what has been a crazy rugby season.
Western Province v Natal Sharks
Saturday 23 January
To Win (80 Mins)
Province 9/10 (-5.5)
Sharks 9/10 (+5.5)
Western ProvinceThe men from Cape Town will be looking to make sure Newlands gets a fond farewell. Whether that farewell be this weekend or next will be dependant on whether Province can get one over their coastal rivals this Saturday.
The hosts head into this one as slight favourites with the bookmakers but know they will be pushed by the KZN team who will be desperate to reclaim the Currie Cup title they won back in 2018.
This season has been a rather disappointing one for the men from the Cape who finished four points adrift of the Bulls in Super Rugby Unlocked. While finishing as runners-up isn’t the worst achievement, one would have expected a bit more from a Stormers side that was loaded with experienced talent.
In terms of the Currie Cup, Province have managed to win three of their five fixtures with their defeats coming at the hands of the Bulls (20-22) and the Lions (22-19). The two losses came in the opening two weeks of the tournament and they have gone onto win their next three games beating the Pumas 28-14, the Griquas 34-17 and Cheetahs 29-31.
SharksLike their opponents for this weekend, the Sharks won’t be too happy with their showing since the rugby season restarted. They enjoyed a great start to the year and were one of the real contenders for the Super Rugby title until the tournament was called off due to COVID-19.
Their return to the rugby field started well enough as they looked a decent side during the early salvos of Super Rugby Unlocked but a heavy defeat to the Bulls and the cancellation of their game against the Stormers saw them fall four points short of the Bulls on the standings.
The Natalians have also been rather hit and miss in the Currie Cup suffering two defeats from their five games. The losses came at the hands of the Lions (27-12) and the Cheetahs (37-10). Worryingly for the Sharks, these results have come near the back end of the round-robin phase of the tournament.
Verdict: Sharks 7/4I just have a feeling that the Natalians will sneak this one. A lot of the recent games between the sides have gone the way of whichever team is visiting, which means home ground advantage may count for little especially with no fans in attendance. I also reckon Curwin Bosch will be the man who makes the difference for the visitors.
Written by Darry Worthington.