The cut-throat nature of the #Reloaded Currie Cup this year means there is no place for slip-ups and the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Cell C Sharks will be acutely aware of that when they host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and DHL Western Province this weekend.

At the same time, Tafel Lager Griquas will be aiming to forge ahead on the log of the Currie Cup Premier Division – sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services – when they take on the dangerous Phakisa Pumas in Kimberley.

Two matches – in Kimberley and Pretoria – are scheduled for Friday, while the big clash in Durban, a replay of last year’s superb final, will kick off at 14h00 on Saturday afternoon. The Xerox Golden Lions have a bye.

The Currie Cup First Division – also sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services – will enter its third week, and the Jaguares XV will look to extend their winning run in East London where they take on Border.

The other matches are in Caledon, where Boland host the EP Elephants, the Leopards and Valke will cross swords in Potch, and the Down Touch Griffons host the SWD Eagles in Welkom, all on Saturday.

Cut-throat Currie Cup Premier Division action continues – Round 2 Preview

For Springbok wing Bjorn Basson the Currie Cup Premier Division match at Tafel Lager Park in Kimberley will be a homecoming of sorts, as that is where he took his first strides in senior rugby, 11 years ago.

The speedy winger scored 47 tries in 56 matches for Tafel Lager Griquas between 2008 and 2010, before his travels took him to Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

The 21 Currie Cup tries Basson scored in the peacock-blue jersey in 2010 is still the record for the most five-pointers by a player in one season.

Tafel Lager Griquas will be hoping he can build on this when he gets a run off the bench against the Phakisa Pumas on Friday afternoon, as a win will strengthen their position at the top of the standings.

After their heart-breaking defeat in Johannesburg last weekend, the Phakisa Pumas have made only one personnel change to their team, with Henko Marais starting at inside centre. They also welcome back the experienced front row duo of Simon Westraadt and De-Jay Terblanche on the bench.

In Pretoria, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will put the disappointment of last weekend’s defeat in Cape Town behind them as they look for their first log points against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, who started with a bye in the opening round.

The home team were bolstered with the arrival of Springbok loose forward Marco van Staden, who has been included on the bench, while Wiehahn Herbst’s return to the front row – he missed last weekend’s match due to family commitments – will bolster their scrum.

The Free Staters will rock up at Loftus Versfeld with four former Vodacom Blue Bulls players in their backline, which has a dangerous look to it. Louis Fouche (fullback), William Small-Smith (wing), Dries Swanepoel (centre) and Tiaan Schoeman (flyhalf) will all have a point to prove in front of their former home crowd.

Three players will also be making their debuts in the colours of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs – locks Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi, and Darren Adonis (replacement back).

The Cell C Sharks side named to take on DHL Western Province in Durban on Saturday has just one change as the coaching staff look to grow and develop the team without disruption.

Rhyno Smith moves up from the bench and will start at fullback, while Aphelele Fassi has been named amongst the replacements.

DHL WP have also decided not to tweak their team too much, and as such Springbok tourist JD Schickerling will start on the side of the scrum in the only change to their team.

Schickerling comes into the starting line-up at blindside flank, with Ernst van Rhyn shifting to openside and Jaco Coetzee at No 8 in place of the injured Juarno Augustus.

Currie Cup Premier Division Round 2 fixtures:

Friday, 19 July:

Tafel Lager Griquas v Phakisa Pumas

Kick-off: 17h00

Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Assistant Referees: Ben Crouse and Johre Botha

TMO: Lourens vd Merwe

TV: SS1

Tafel Lager Griquas – 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona. Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Johan Momson, 19 Zandre Jordaan, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Bjorn Basson, 23 Ruan Kramer.

Phakisa Pumas – 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Ryan Nell (capt), 12 Henko Marais, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Carel du Preez, 6 Jeandré Rudolph, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel. Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Ashlon Davids, 21 Chris Smith, 22 Alwayno Visagie, 23 Morgan Naude.

Vodacom Blue Bulls v Toyota Free State Cheetahs

Kick-off: 19h15

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Marius vd Westhuizen

Assistant Referees: Stephan Geldenhuys and Christoper Allison

TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans

TV: SS1

Vodacom Blue Bulls – 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Roelof Smit, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Andries Ferreira, 4 Ruan Nortje, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Dylan Sage.

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 15 Louis Fouche, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tiaan Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Dian Badenhorst, 23 Darren Adonis.

Saturday, 20 July

Cell C Sharks v DHL Western Province

Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban

Kick-off: 14h00

Referee: Stuart Berry

Assistant Referees: Paul Mente and Vusi Msibi

TMO: Marius Jonker

TV: SS1

Cell C Sharks – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (co-captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (co-captain), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Juan Schoeman. Replacements:16 Craig Burden, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Aphelele Fassi.

DHL Western Province – 15 SP Marais, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (capt), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry.

Jaquares XV setting pace in Currie Cup First Division – Round 3 Preview

The Jaguares XV are looking to continue their dream start in the Currie Cup First Division, sponsored by Direct Axis Financial Services, when they travel to East London to face Border in the third round of the competition on Saturday.

The Argentineans won both their opening matches in commanding fashion and could find their first visit to Police Park a fruitful one if they continue with their attacking displays that yielded them 14 tries so far.

Border will find them hard to repel if they don’t up their own defensive efforts, having conceded 10 tries in their two matches already. They would back their chances on attack though, as the Potchefstroom-based side have conceded eight tries so far, providing a potential chink in their armour for future opponents.

The early match will take the EP Elephants and Boland to Caledon, home of former Springbok flyhalf Errol Tobias, with both sides looking for a win, albeit for different reasons.

EP will be desperate for a first win to start an early comeback of sorts, while the home side would have been working hard on their missing defensive effort. Boland’s defence in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge was rock solid, but they have already leaked 10 tries, the most in the competition along with Border and the Down Touch Griffons.

The latter will be looking to cash in on their try-scoring abilities at home, but will find in the SWD Eagles a team that don’t mind playing away from home.

The men from George drew with the Valke up in Gauteng two weeks ago and clearly do not mind travelling north for a crack at their opponents at the HT Pelatona Projects Stadium. In Shario Rosenkrantz (wing), the Eagles have the leading try-scorer in the competition.

The Jaquares XV, SWD and Valke are the only teams with a positive points’ difference at this stage, but that could change when the Gauteng side take the N12 down to Potchefstroom to face the ever-improving Leopards at Olën Park.

The home side will be boosted by the likes of Eugene Hare and Lungelo Gosa, who represented the SA Students Sevens team in Italy a week ago, as well as SA Rugby Sevens Academy representative Luwi Mngadi, and will need that spark to get into the top four on the log.

The Valke have shown some good attacking skills this year and this match could prove to be highly entertaining and very competitive, as matches between these two teams inevitable tend to be.

Currie Cup First Division Round 3 fixtures:

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Boland v EP Elephants

Venue: Caledon Sports Grounds, Caledon

Time: 14h30

Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni

Leopards v Valke

Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom

Time: 15h00

Referee: Ruhan Meiring

Down Touch Griffons v SWD

Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom

Time: 15h00

Referee: Divan Uys

Border v Jaguares XV

Venue: Police Park, East London

Time: 15h00

Referee: Griffin Colby

Leading points’ scorers:

Martin Elias (Jaguares XV) – 30 points

Anrich Richter (Valke) – 20

Shario Rosenkrantz (SWD) – 20


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