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Currie Cup

PREVIEW: Currie Cup catfight in Bloem for title honours

The Currie Cup reaches its climax this coming Saturday and it’s sure to be a scratchy old affair with the Free State Cheetahs playing host to the Pumas in Bloemfontein.

Charle Lombard/BackpagePix

While the competition's prestige and quality has dropped off in recent years due to the big guns fielding duel squads, the Currie Cup still produces occasional moments of magic. Hopefully this weekend's fixture between these two non-URC sides is full of moments of magic.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Saturday 24 June

Free State Cheetahs 1/3 | Draw 22/1 | Pumas 5/2

Cheetahs (-8.5) 9/10  Pumas (+8.5) 9/10

The Cheetahs have finally booked themselves a Currie Cup final berth with their last appearance coming in 2019. The Free Staters enjoyed a solid round-robin phase campaign finishing the regular season at the summit of the table with nine wins from their 14 fixtures.

They carried their solid regular season form into the semi-finals where they hammered Jake White’s Bulls outfit 39-10. What made their semi-final showing all the more impressive was the fact that the Bulls fielded a stacked side that contained the likes of Marcel Coetzee , Johan Goosen, Cornal Hendricks and Nizaam Carr.

One of the men who really stood out in the aforementioned was veterna Ruan Pienaar who kept things ticking over at fly-half with his intelligent kicking game and mature game management. The former ‘Bok will be required to play a key role again this weekend.

While the Cheetahs have endured a long absence from the Currie Cup Grand Final, the Pumas have gone back-to-back following and will be looking to repeat their feats of 2022 where they beat the Griquas 26-19.

The visitors for this weekend weren’t as impressive as their counterparts during the regular season finishing in third place with eight wins from their 14 fixtures. They were just as impressive as their opponents for Saturday in the semi-finals, however, beating the Sharks 20-26 in Durban.

The key man for the Pumas this weekend is likely to be their fly-half Tinus De Beer who has scored 114 points this term.

Looking at the head-to-head results between the sides during the regular season, the Pumas hammered the Cheetahs 21-61 in Bloemfontein while the Cheetahs bounced back with a 14-29 win in Nelspruit at the start of June. it must also be noted that the Cheetahs were still involved in the European Challenge Cup when the first regular season Currie Cup fixture took place, and that their squad was extremely stretched.

I fancy the hosts here. They were incredible against the Bulls and their game management was spot on. If they replicate that showing here then the Currie Cup will be spending the next year in Bloem.

Cheetahs to clear the handicap.

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