Currie Cup Rugby Round 2 Preview

The two most successful Currie Cup rugby sides from the last decade, the Blue Bulls and the Free State Cheetahs, square off in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.

These two sides have won or shared the Currie Cup no less than seven times in the last ten years. The Blue Bulls were champions in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2009, while the Free State Cheetahs won the trophy in 2005 and 2007. They shared the spoils in 2006.

The only other teams to have won the competition since 2001 – Western Province (2001) and The Sharks (2008 and 2010) – travel to Potchefstroom and Nelspruit on Friday for their matches against the Platinum Leopards and the Pumas respectively.

The fourth match this weekend in the Currie Cup Premier Division is on Saturday afternoon in Kimberley, where Griquas host the Golden Lions.

This weekend’s matches:

Pumas vs The Sharks

During their last visit to Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium, the Pumas upset the Blue Bulls by 22-21, which will give them a lot of confidence ahead of their of their game against the defending Currie Cup champs.

Furthermore, The Sharks will know they always face a fired up Pumas side when they travel to Mpumalanga, having been on the losing side up there before. The last time the Pumas beat the KwaZulu-Natalians, was in 2004, and even though it’s a while ago, it proves that upsets can happen.

Experienced Sharks flanker Jacques Botes was in the grey of the Pumas on that day in Witbank and is the only player from that game that will play in Friday’s fixture in Nelspruit.

Grant Bash, Sharks assistant coach, said: “We were impressed by the Pumas at the weekend, because that Lions team hasn’t lost many of the players they had in their Super Rugby campaign. For much of the game the result could have gone either way and it took an intercept try for the Lions to get home. The Pumas have a big pack and some exciting backs, so it’s going to be a tough match.

Bash added that The Sharks’ pack impressed against the Blue Bulls last week and that they would be looking for more of the same this weekend: “The pack really put in a big performance and we were really impressed with their work-rate. That sort of X-factor, energy and enthusiasm was impressive.

“We certainly don’t want to put ourselves under pressure early on in the season and especially with some difficult matches to come. After a big effort against the Bulls, we don’t want to now slip up this weekend, so it will be important for us to get the job done. “

Pumas vs The Sharks
Date: Friday, 22 July
Kick-off: 19:00
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Last time these teams met in Currie Cup: 10 September 2010, The Sharks won by 14-30 in Witbank

Platinum Leopards vs Western Province

After losing their first game of the season in Bloemfontein last weekend, the Platinum Leopards will be looking to turn things around when they host last year’s runners up, Western Province, in Potchefstroom on Friday evening.

The visitors to North West drew their first game of the season, last weekend in Cape Town against Griquas, which wasn’t the greatest way to start the 2011 competition and had their die hard fans up in arms.

Allister Coetzee, coach of WP, said: “There is no such thing as easy games in the Currie Cup. We will have to be at our best to beat the Leopards – they have some very good players, good structures and a good coaching team.

“We also have to fix the mistakes we made against Griquas last weekend. We’ve laid the foundation with a young team and know which areas we have to work on. But like I said, the Leopards will test us, especially up front, and we can’t af to give anything less than our level best on the field. “

Platinum Leopards vs Western Province
Date: Friday, 22 July

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