Currie Cup Premier Division Preview – Round 3

The Sharks will look to retain their unbeaten record in this year’s Currie Cup Premier Division when they travel to Pretoria to face the Blue Bulls in the last of three intriguing Saturday match-ups in the new-look, six-team competition.

The Sharks, despite being disrupted by the loss of hooker Craig Burden, who has become a Springbok after being called up to tour with the national team in Argentina, will go to Loftus full of confidence that they can register the third consecutive win of their campaign.

The side currently have eight log points from their two victories over Western Province and defending champions the Golden Lions.

The men from KwaZulu-Natal will also be heartened by the fact that they came away with a famous win the last time they played the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup match in the country’s capital – a 39-27 victory last September.

In Saturday’s first match, winless Griquas, who find themselves at the bottom of the table, host the Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley for what should nevertheless be another hard-fought derby between the two central-union neighbours.

The Cheetahs, lying in fifth place, will be brimming with confidence following their 32-18 win over the Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein last week, and they will no doubt be bolstered by the return of flyhalf Johan Goosen following a lengthy injury-enforced layoff.

And in the day’s other match, the second-placed Lions are at home to third-placed Western Province – who have been bolstered by the return of Siya Kolisi and Juan de Jongh from Springbok squad duty – with both sides tied on five log points and both looking to break away from the chasing pack.

Blue Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouche tops the Premier Division point-scoring log after Round 2, with 33 points made up of three conversions and nine penalties.

Behind Fouche in second place is the Cheetahs’ Riaan Smit on 29, with the Lions’ Butch James third on 25.

Blue Bulls loose forward CJ Stander, Sharks hooker Craig Burden and Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule lead the try-scoring stakes with two touchdowns apiece.

This weekend’s fixtures – Round 3:

Griquas vs Free State Cheetahs
Date: Saturday, 25 August
Kickoff: 15:00
Venue: Park, Kimberley
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistants: Sindile Mayende, Reuben Rossouw
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman
Last meeting: 15 October 2011 in Bloemfontein (Premier Division): Cheetahs won 49-39

Golden Lions vs Western Province
Date: Saturday, 25 August
Kickoff: 17:05
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistants: Ben Crouse, Stefan Breytenbach
Television match official: Johan Greeff
Last meeting: 22 October 2011 in Johannesburg (Premier Division): Lions won 29-20

Blue Bulls vs Sharks
Date: Saturday, 25 August
Kickoff: 19:10
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistants: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cobus Wessels
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee
Last meeting: 3 September 2011 in Pretoria (Premier Division): Sharks won 39-27

Round 2 results:
Free State Cheetahs 32-18 Blue Bulls
Sharks 30-14 Golden Lions
Griquas 20-25 Western Province

Round 1 results:
Blue Bulls 35-20 Griquas
Golden Lions 43-20 Free State Cheetahs
Western Province 23-25 Sharks

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