Griquas & Blue Bulls under pressure in Currie Cup

Ulrich Beyers stars for the Blue Bulls

Griquas and the Blue Bulls will be under immense pressure to register victories in the Currie Cup Premier Division this weekend to stay in the running for semifinal places as the countdown begins to the final stages.

Failure to do so could result in the teams battling it out to avoid the wooden spoon.

While victories would allow them to close in on the pace-setters in the competition with four rounds to go including this weekend, defeats could leave them at a point of no return in the series.

With Griquas battling to seal the deal in their opening six matches, defending champions Western Province will target Friday’s clash to register a victory in order to maintain their lead at the top of the log.

In Saturday’s matches The Sharks meet the Free State Cheetahs in Durban and the Golden Lions host the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park in the Gauteng derby.

All five players who were released for Currie Cup duty from the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship squad – Franco van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Piet van Zyl and Bjorn Basson – have been included in their respective provincial teams.

Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures:

Western Province vs Griquas
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Time: 19h10
Date: 20 September 2013

The Sharks vs Free State Cheetahs
Venue: GrowthPoint Kings Park, Durban
Time: 15h00
Date: 21 September 2013

Golden Lions vs Blue Bulls
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Time: 17h05
Date: 21 September 2013

Western Province vs Griquas

Western Province will be high on confidence following their upset against the Blue Bulls with 14 men for 45 minutes at Loftus Versfeld last week, and given their impressive style of rugby.

However, Griquas are expected to put up a brave fight to keep alive their semifinal hopes, and with four bonus points for losing matches within seven points in five defeats, they will not be short of self-belief. Such was the closeness of the last encounter between the sides, Western Province won 20-19.

The Kimberley side, however, will have to overcome the mental block of having suffered five back-to-back defeats in order to create an upset.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee made two changes to his starting team for the clash with Rohan Kitshoff being drafted into the loose trio to fill the void left by Michael Rhodes, who is serving a one-match suspension, which has necessitated the switch of Rynhardt Elstadt to No 7.

Griquas coach Pote Human, meanwhile, has made four changes to his team, which includes the return of lock Jaco Nepgen in place of the injured Robert Kruger and No 8 Leon Karemaker, while Jacques Coetzee replaces Marnus Hugo at scrumhalf.

Match Officials
: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Kaplan, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Western Province: Gio Aplon; Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Kurt Coleman, Nic Groom; Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, Rohan Kitshoff; De Kock Steenkamp (capt), Taz Fuzani; Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: Michael Willemse, Brok Harris, Gerbrandt Grobler, Rayn Smid, Josh Katzen, Louis Schreuder, Demetri Catrakilis.

Griquas: Gouws Prinsloo; Nico Scheepers, Jean Stemmet, Howard Mnisi, Rocco Jansen; Francois Brummer, Jacques Coetzee; Leon Karemaker, Burger Schoeman, Marnus Schoeman; Jaco Nepgen, Rory Arnold; Nick Schonert, Ryno Barnes (capt), Steph Roberts.

Replacements: Matthew Dobson, Brummer Badenhorst, Patrick O’Brien, RJ Liebenberg, Marnus Hugo, Du Randt Gerber, Richard Lawson.

The Sharks vs Free State Cheetahs

In Durban the Sharks will back themselves to beat the Free State Cheetahs after winnin

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