Currie Cup Rugby Preview – Week 13

Griquas will be playing for Currie Cup survival while the Blue Bulls will not want to lose touch with the top four teams on the log when these two sides clash in Kimberley on Saturday.

Defeat to the home team, currently in sixth position on the log, would mean they can’t qualify for the semi-finals any more, but victory is just as important for the Blue Bulls, who are in fifth place.

The Golden Lions, the only team to have qualified for the playoffs thus far, will look to secure the first position on the log when they host Western Province in Johannesburg on Saturday. If the home team can win, they will finish top of the Currie Cup log for the first time since 1999.

Elsewhere, the Free State Cheetahs and The Sharks are involved in a mini-duel for home ground advantage in the semi-finals when they play the two bottom-placed teams, the Pumas and Platinum Leopards, this weekend.

Pumas vs Free State Cheetahs

The Pumas will be out to avoid a big drubbing like the last time they played the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup. However, since that day in August, when the Cheetahs beat the Pumas by 80-16 in Bloemfontein, the team from Mpumalanga have won two of their games, including a victory in Kimberley over Griquas.

And while the Free State Cheetahs have been in scintillating form at home against The Sharks and in Cape Town against Western Province last month, they’ve also drawn two home matches after losing big leads in the late stages.

Against the Blue Bulls on 10 September, the Cheetahs lead by 22-12 with seven minutes to go and ended up drawing 22-22. Last weekend, the Golden Lions fought back from 11-25 down with four minutes to go, to draw the game 25-25.

Free State Cheetahs captain, Adriaan Strauss, is of the opinion these problems arise from decision making and individual errors, something they would like to rectify in Witbank on Friday.

“I believe we can sort these issues out and will be switched on not to repeat them. For now, our most important task is to go to Witbank and ensure we get the victory we need over there. Things like bonus points don’t come into the equation now, we just have to get back onto the winning track first,” said Strauss.

Pumas vs Free State Cheetahs

Date: Friday, 7 October
Kick-off: 19:10
Venue: Puma Stadium, Witbank
Referee: Sindile Mayende
Last three games in Currie Cup:
– 7 August 2010: FS Cheetahs won 45-30 in Witbank
– 24 September 2010: FS Cheetahs won 59-24 in Bloemfontein
– 20 August 2011: FS Cheetahs won 80-16 in Bloemfontein

Griquas vs Blue Bulls

It’s never easy at GWK Park, but the Blue Bulls will have to overcome the Kimberley-factor as well as a fired-up Griquas side if they are to keep alive their Currie Cup semi-final hopes.

Even though the Blue Bulls have been relatively successful in the Northern Cape – they haven’t lost there in Currie Cup rugby since 30 June 2007 – their coach, Pine Pienaar, admitted that this could be one of their hardest matches of 2011.

The Blue Bulls have lost Zane Kirchner to Rugby World Cup duty, but Pienaar has selected Dean Greyling (prop), Deon Stegmann (flank) and Akona Ndungane (wing), all three of them Springboks that have been missing due to injuries lately.

“The reality is that Griquas could still get past us on the log, so they have everything to play for as well. We will probably need 10 points from our last two games to stay in the play-off race, so it will be two pretty desperate teams taking on each other,” Pienaar said.

“It has always been a massive challenge to go and beat Griquas on their home patch and we will need all the experience we can get to do that. It is therefore very pleasing to welcome back the three Springboks to our team.”

Griquas welcome back their mercurial scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius this weekend. If he can

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