2013 Currie Cup Semi-finals Preview

The Currie Cup Premier Division will reach boiling point on Saturday as the top four teams go head-to-head for rewarding final berths in epic clashes.

Griquas and the Pumas will also take to the field in Kimberley on Friday at 19h10 in the first of two Currie Cup promotion-relegation games to determine which of the teams will feature in the Premier Division next season.

Defending champions, Western Province, will meet the Golden Lions at Newlands in the first semifinal on Saturday at 14h30, while The Sharks meet the Free State Cheetahs at Kings Park in Durban at 17h00 in the semifinals.

Should Western Province and the Sharks advance to the final, it will mark their third back-to-back final in SA’s premier domestic competition. A victory for the Sharks this weekend, meanwhile, would earn them their fourth back-to-back final appearance in the competition.

Western Province vs Golden Lions

With home ground advantage and winning momentum counting in Western Province’s favour, they will enter their semifinal against the Golden Lions as favourites. Such has been the consistency of the Cape side’s performances this season they finished the round-robin stages unbeaten.

But while they share the best defensive record with the Sharks during the round-robin stages, they were second-last on the list of tries scored. In stark contrast the Lions were the top try-scorers with an average of four tries per match, but they conceded 10 more tries than Western Province, meaning their defence will be one of their main focus areas on Saturday.

The Lions will also have to improve their discipline significantly to keep alive hopes of an upset, after conceding several penalties last week, which allowed Griquas to keep the scoreboard ticking. A similar disciplinary effort this week could come at a high price, especially with accurate Western Province goal-kicker Demetri Catrakilis on form with the boot.

The teams have been closely matched in the Currie Cup over the last few seasons, with Western Province winning four of their last 10 match-ups, and the Lions five. The other match ended in a 31-31 draw earlier this season. Three of the Cape side’s victories, however, were at home, which should give them confidence.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee pinned his hopes of a victory on the players that held on for a 17-13 victory against the Sharks last week to guide the team to a possible home final, with the only change to the starting team being at outside centre where Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will start.

He will partner Damian de Allende in a hard-running midfield combination, while his national team-mate Juan de Jongh has been named on the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, meanwhile, made a handful of changes to his team with props CJ van der Linde and Ruan Dreyer earning starts. Star flyhalf Elton Jantjies has recovered from injury and will start at No10 in a halfback pairing with Ross Cronje, meaning Marnitz Boshoff will start at fullback.

Match Officials
Referee
: Marius Jonker
Assistant Referees: Jason Jaftha, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Teams

Western Province: Gio Aplon; Gerhard van den Heever, Jean de Villiers, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Demetri Catrakilis, Louis Schreuder; Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Deon Fourie; De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth; Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: Frans Malherbe, Brok Harris, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Juan de Jongh.

Golden Lions: Marnitz Boshoff; Chrysander Botha, Lionel Mapoe, Andries Coetzee, Anthony Volmink; Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje; Warren Whiteley, Derick Minnie (capt), Jaco Kriel; Franco van der Merwe, Chris van Zyl; Ruan Dreyer, Willie Wepener, CJ v

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