Weekend predictions

Tank Lanning

So, in the baggage of the first overseas team to tour South Africa in 1891 was a cup given to the British Isles squad by Sir Donald Currie, owner of Union-Castle Lines, the shipping company that had transported them to South Africa. Sir Donald was clear with his instructions – hand this trophy over to the team in South Africa that gives you the best game. So it came to be that Griqualand West became the first ever holders of the Currie Cup, and to this day the trophy remains the holy grail of South African rugby. The British side duly donated the trophy to the SA rugby board, and it became the prize for the Currie Cup tournament, the inaugural one held in 1892 with Western Province as the first winners. It is the oldest provincial rugby tournament in the world!

This weekend, the Sharks aim for their third Currie Cup win in five seasons when they host Western Province at Kings Park in Durban. WP will simply be looking to end an 11-year title drought, having last won the iconic trophy in 2001 at Newlands – also against the Sharks!

The Sharks and WP have contested three finals, the Cape side winning in 2000 and 2001, and the Sharks winning in 2010 in Durban. Saturday’s final will be the seventh for the Sharks since 2000, and the fourth since for WP. The Sharks have won the last 4 encounters between the two sides …

But it’s not all about the final this weekend …

Currie Cup Promotion/Relegation
Eastern Province vs Free State, Kickoff: 19:10
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistants: Quintin Immelman, Cobus Wessels
Television Match Official: Johann Meuwesen

One thing is for sure … Unlike last weekend, I will not be wasting my Friday night watching this! The huge chasm between the top 6 Currie Cup sides in SA and the rest was made abundantly clear, and only playing in PE, and Free State’s lack of interest, will keep the score relatively tidy.

My prediction:  Cheetahs by 18

Eastern Province: 15 Michael Killian
14 Norman Nelson 13 Paul Perez
12 Tiger Mangweni, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi,
10 George Whitehead, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Devin Oosthuizen, 7 Wimpie van der Walt,
6 Boetie Britz, 5 Rynier Bernado, 4 Darron Nell (c),
3 Andre Schlechter, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Bench: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Mpho Mbiyozo, 20 Scott Mathie, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Scott van Breda.

Free State: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Bench: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Nico Scheepers.

08:30 – ITM Cup Premiership Final – Canterbury vs Auckland
AMI Stadium – Christchurch

12:00 – WP U19 vs Blue Bulls U19
Kings Park, Durban
WP: 15. Janco Gunter 14. Werner Kok 13. Justin Geduld 12. Kyle Lombard 11. JP Lewis (vice-captain) 10. Tommy Allan 9. Jean Nel 8. Justin Benn 7. Jurie van Vuuren 6. Eital Bredenkamp 5. Andrew Becker 4. Tiaan Benade 3. Nicol Heyns 2. Freddie Kirsten (captain) 1. Sti Sithole
Bench: 16. Brianton Booysen 17. Niel Oelofse 18. Deacon Chowles 19. Sebastian Ferreira 20. Nicholai Lubbe 21. Bjorn Bernardo 22. Niel Bester 23. Selom Gavor

Blue Bulls: Jacques Rossouw, Jade Stighling, Dean Moolman, Burger Odendaal (v/c), Ruwellyn Isbell, Francois Tredoux, Carlo Engelbrecht, Ruan Steenkamp ©, Jacques du Plessis, Roelof Smit, Dennis Visser, Irnè Herbst, Andrew Beerwinkel, Theunis Reynolds, Justin Forwood.
Bench: Jacques Taylor, Jan Enslin, Jannes Kirsten, Christiaan de Bruin, Tokkie Mtsweni, Juan Smit, Clyde Davids, Neethling Fouchè.

14:00 – WP U21 vs Blue Bulls U21
Kings Park, Durban

Proper Bulls side with the SA U20 flanks teaming up with Arno Botha to make a formidable back row. Small-Smith vs JP du Plessis will dent a coolerbox. Just imagine the look of this WP U20 side had the senior side not got out of jail against the Lions last week! The entire Currie Cup front row is still U21!
WP: 15. Cheslin Kolbe 14. Dillyn Leyds 13. JP du Plessis 12. Kobus van Wyk 11. Pat Howard 10. Tim Swiel 9. Rick Schroeder (captain) 8. Rayn Smid 7. JP Swanepoel 6. Josh Katzen 5. Gerbrandt Grobler 4. Jan de Klerk 3. Oliver Kebble 2. Neil Rautenbach 1. Francois van Wyk (vice-captain)
Bench: 16. Stephan Coetzee 17. Kelvin de Bruyn 18. Jean Kleyn 19. Jody Reyneke 20. Godlen Masimla 21. Clearance Khumalo 22. Dean Hammond

Blue Bulls: Ulrich Beyers, Damian van Wyk, William Small-Smith, Francois Venter, Travis Ismaiel, Tian Schoeman, Lohan Jacobs, Arno Botha, Wiaan Liebenberg ©, Shaun Adendorff, Marvin Orie, Mike Williams, Hencus van Wyk, Bongi Mbonambi, Juan Schoeman.
Bench: Jaco Visagie, Basil Short, Victor Hechter, Jean Cook, Emile Temperman, Tony Jantjies, Christopher Bosch.

17:00 – Sharks vs Western Province – Currie Cup final
Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistants: Christie du Preez, Stefan Breytenbach
Television Match Official: Johann Meuwesen

The Cape side got out of jail last week against the Lions in Joburg … Elton Jantjies left his kicking boots at home and they made a seriously schoolboy error in passing back into their 22 at the death. This while the Sharks bossed the Blue Bulls into a state of petulance and kid like retaliation.

The WP pack took strain come scrum time against a powerful Lions scrum dominated by JC Janse van Rensburg, and this weekend they are up against an all Bok front row who got the better of the Bulls last week. And this is where I see it coming unstuck for the travelers. I think the Sharks will bully the WP pack, even with man beast Eben Etzebeth in their midst …

Damien de Allende is a classy player who has a real future in the game. He has played centre, but not for the WP senior side, and he has never started for the senior side either. Now, come the final, he starts against the properly exciting Whitehead and Jordaan. That is risky, and smacks a little of brawn over brains.

This WP side is actually better when they run the ball, and I have a feeling they are going to head back to Stormers territory where defense dominated their mindset. And we all know how that worked out for them against the Sharks in the Super Rugby semi final …

This is a class Sharks side that should see their pack dominate, allowing a human wrecking ball like Alberts to run into space, giving Reinach a comfy ride from which to ignite a backline that includes superstars Lambie and Pietersen. Not sure how they can lose this one …

My prediction:  Sharks by 7

Sharks – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

WP – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Joe Pietersen.

And some stats and fact to impress the troops at the braai tomorrow to finish off with …

Currie Cup Final results 2000-2011
2000 Sharks 15-25 WP
2001 WP 29-24 Sharks
2002 Lions 7-31 Blue Bulls
2003 Blue Bulls 40-19 Sharks
2004 Blue Bulls 42-33 Free State
2005 Blue Bulls 25-29 Free State
2006 Free State 28-28 Blue Bulls
2007 Free State 20-18 Lions
2008 Sharks 14-9 Blue Bulls
2009 Blue Bulls 36-24 Free State
2010 Sharks 30-10 WP
2011 Lions 42-16 Sharks

Most titles won:
31 – WP (last title in 2001, also shared four times)
23 – Blue Bulls (last title 2009, also shared four times)
10 – Lions (last title 2011, also shared once)
6 – Sharks (last title 2010)
4 – Free State (last title 2007, also shared once)

Currie Cup Final records:
Highest winning score: 56-33 (Transvaal vs Free State, 1994)
Most tries by a team: 7 (Transvaal vs Free State, 1994)
Most points by a player: 26 (Derick Hougaard, Blue Bulls vs Lions, 2002)
Most conversions: 6 (Gavin Johnson, Transvaal vs Free State, 1994)
Most penalties: 6 (Thierry Lacroix, Natal vs WP, 1995)
Most drop goals: 4 (Naas Botha, Northern Transvaal vs Transvaal, 1987)
Most appearances: 11 (Burger Geldenhuys, 1977-89; Naas Botha 1977-91)