Currie Cup Rugby Preview – Week 8

The second round of the Currie Cup Premier Division kicks off on Friday in Nelspruit, with the highlight of the weekend Saturday’s match in Pretoria between the Blue Bulls and The Sharks.


It’s been a tough season for the Blue Bulls, but they’ve won their last three games and will be looking to continue that trend against the defending champions.


On Friday evening, the Pumas will be looking for revenge when they host the table-topping Golden Lions, after their close defeat in the opening round in Johannesburg.


The other games this weekend are between Griquas and Western Province in Kimberley, and the Leopards and the Free State Cheetahs in Potchefstroom.


The EP Kings and Boland Cavaliers will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the Currie Cup First Division table against the Border Bulldogs and Griffons this weekend.


Pumas vs Golden Lions


The Golden Lions needed a late try to beat the Pumas in the opening Currie Cup fixture this season and John Mitchell’s men will travel to the Mbombela Stadium knowing they can’t underestimate the team from Mpumalanga.


A few weeks ago, the Blue Bulls had to work very hard to beat the Pumas in Nelspruit, while Griquas also found the going tough in the Mbombela Stadium in July.


Jimmy Stonehouse, coach of the Pumas, said it’s good to be welcoming back experienced players like their flank and captain, Corné Steenkamp, prop Dawie Steyn and scrumhalf Shaun Venter, who have all been out injured.


“We’ve been struggling with injuries, but these players are basically all fit again and it’s great to have them back, as they form an experienced core for us. But even with them back, it won’t be easy,” said Stonehouse.


“The Golden Lions top the log and even though they’ve had their fair share of luck, but have been on the winning side in six of their matches, which brings confidence. That will only increase the pressure on us.”


As Stonehouse points out, the Pumas’ season turned around in the second round in 2010, when they beat the Blue Bulls and Golden Lions, and they will be hoping for more of the same this season.


“If we can limit our mistakes and play with confidence, we can do it again. We only just lost to the Lions in the first round and with the injured players back, we’ll be ready for them in Nelspruit this weekend,” said Stonehouse.


Pumas vs Golden Lions
Date: Friday, 2 September
Kick-off: 19:10
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Last three meetings in Currie Cup:
– 20 August 2010: Golden Lions won 33-30 in Witbank
– 8 October 2010: Pumas won 34-27 in Johannesburg
– 15 July 2011: Golden Lions won 31-27 in Johannesburg


Griquas vs Western Province


Kimberley has proven to be a difficult destination in the Currie Cup this year, with Griquas winning three out of their four matches thus far at GWK Park, including victories over the Sharks and the Free State Cheetahs.


And even though Western Province crushed Griquas in the corresponding fixture last year, they will still be mindful of the danger posed by the team from the Northern Cape.


WP coach Allister Coetzee has urged his players to protect the ball better when they have possession.


“It is going to be tough against Griquas. Last year’s trip to Kimberley was probably the turning point in our season, but we know it is not going to be easy. They will be confident after a good display last week,” said Coetzee.


“We know we will have to respect the ball this week. They are excellent at counter attacking and have a lot of players who can punish you. It will be vital to be accurate, to play the game in the correct areas and to capitalise when we are in those areas.


“Last week (against the Pumas) the bounce of the ball was not there for us, but no excuses we had plenty of chances tha

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