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The Carling Currie Cup Bulletin #17

The race to the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division playoffs is well and truly on, but this weekend the focus will be on Potchefstroom, where the Leopards and Down Touch Griffons clash in the First Division final on Friday afternoon.

The Leopards won the right to host the First Division final after finishing with five victories from their six league games – the same as the Griffons – but the team from North West had one more bonus point.

Friday’s hosts will go into the final high on confidence after securing a big win in their semi-final over the Boland Kavaliers, while the visitors from Welkom had to work a bit harder for their victory over the Valke, but both teams will know that there won’t be any second chances on Friday if they are going to lift the silverware.

In the Premier Division, the Vodacom Bulls and Sigma Lions have a short turn-around after their games on Wednesday night when they clash in a Jukskei Derby in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

Two matches are scheduled for Sunday – the Cell C Sharks host the Toyota Cheetahs in Durban, and the New Nation Pumas travel to Cape Town to face DHL Western Province.

Vodacom Bulls go top as Tafel Lager Griquas run out of puff

The Vodacom Bulls scored eight tries as they stormed to a 56-33 win over Tafel Lager Griquas and straight to the top of the Carling Currie Cup log at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday afternoon.

With both teams coming off defeats and the winner set to unseat the Cell C Sharks at the summit after the COVID-hit Durbanites’ scheduled clash with the New Nation Pumas had to be cancelled, there was ample motivation.

Schalk Erasmus and Kurt-Lee Arendse headlined the try-scoring with a brace apiece as the defending champions pulled clear after a gutsy, injury-ravaged Tafel Lager Griquas side ran out of steam in the final quarter.

Scorers:

Vodacom Bulls 56 (20) – Tries: Johan Goosen, Schalk Erasmus (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse (2), Walt Steenkamp, Elrigh Louw, Jan-Hendrik Wessels. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4), Chris Smith. Penalty goals: Goosen (2).

Tafel Lager Griquas 33 (16) – Tries: Stefan Ungerer, Penalty try, Janco Uys. Conversion: George Whitehead (2). Penalty goals: Whitehead (4).

Breathless Carling Currie Cup stalemate in Bloemfontein

Twelve tries in 80 minutes of Carling Currie Cup action during which time the lead changed hands 10 times saw a remarkable game between the Toyota Cheetahs and the Sigma Lions end in a 44-44 draw in Bloemfontein on Wednesday night.

Each side scored six tries apiece in a see-saw affair where both sides would have bemoaned their defensive displays, but when it came to giving the ball some air, the Free Staters and Gautengers went about their business like a game of sevens.

Late in the game, in a strong attacking position on the field with their pack in control, the Sigma Lions opted for a penalty goal to tie the scores, which may still come back to haunt them as both teams remain at the wrong end of the standings.

Scorers:

Toyota Cheetahs 44 (23) – Tries: Ruan Pienaar, David Brits, Craig Barry, Louis van der Westhuizen, Malcolm Jaer, Andisa Ntsila. Conversions: Pienaar (4). Penalty goals: Pienaar (2).

Sigma Lions 44 (17) – Tries: Ruhan Straeuli, Rabz Maxwane (2), Jaco Visagie, Stean Pienaar, Burger Odendaal. Conversions: Jaden Hendrikse (4). Penalty goals: Hendrikse (2).

Premier Division

The Sigma Lions face a tough task when they travel north across the Jukskei River to face the current pace-setters and Carling Currie Cup Premier Division defending champions, the Vodacom Bulls, in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.

The men from Joburg come off two high-scoring matches – a big win in Kimberley and a draw in Bloemfontein – and will back their attack against their neighbours, but the Vodacom Bulls have their confidence back after defeat to the Cell C Sharks a few weeks ago and will be looking to emulate their seventh round 40-21 victory over the Sigma Lions.

Sunday’s first match is in Durban, where the Cell C Sharks take on the Toyota Cheetahs in a match that both sides will hope to win – victory for the KwaZulu-Natalians will mean they remain in the race to finish in the top two on the log, while the Free Staters need the result to keep alive their playoff hopes and move away from the bottom of the log.

The final match of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon in Cape Town, also promises to be a humdinger as the New Nation Pumas take on DHL Western Province.

The Lowvelders are clinging to fourth spot on the log and if they hope to make it to the semi-finals, a win at DHL Newlands will go a long way in ensuring they remain in the top four.

But the Capetonians – currently sixth on the log, two points behind their opponents this weekend – will be desperate to repeat their round seven win in Nelspruit to move up in the standings as the competition moves towards the business end.

Match information:

Sigma Lions v Vodacom Bulls

Date: Saturday, 14 August

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Kick-off: 13h30

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen

Assistant Referees: Local appointments

Television Match Official: Quinton Immelman

TV: SuperSport

Cell C Sharks v Toyota Cheetahs

Date: Sunday, 15 August

Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban

Kick-off: 13h30

Referee: Stuart Berry

Assistant Referees: Local appointments

Television Match Official: Egon Seconds

TV: SuperSport

DHL Western Province v New Nation Pumas

Date: Sunday, 15 August

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Kick-off: 16h00

Referee: Griffin Colby

Assistant Referees: Local appointments

Television Match Official: Quinton Immelman

TV: SuperSport

First Division

If the previous encounter between the Leopards and Down Touch Griffons is anything to go by, the brand-new Carling Currie Cup First Division trophy will remain in Potchefstroom for the next year, but rugby doesn’t work like that, and all 46 players involved in Friday’s final know that.

Just under a month ago, in the fifth round on Saturday 17 July, the Leopards beat the Griffons by 36-26 at Olën Park – the Northern Free Staters’ only defeat in the competition to date.

The hosts scored four tries on that day and conceded three, while both teams were awarded a penalty try. But finals are seldom open affairs with brilliant running rugby, with more emphasis on defence.

In that regard, the Down Touch Griffons pose a serious threat – they conceded only nine tries during the league phase of the competition, half of what the Leopards let in.

Last weekend, in the semi-finals, the Leopards conceded five tries against the Boland Kavaliers en route to their 52-29 win, while the Valke scored three and were awarded a penalty try in their semi-final, which the Griffons won by 38-31.

Defences aside, if the Griffons let their guard down for a moment, the Leopards will look to pounce, as they have done all season long. The men from North West scored a total of 38 tries this season – including seven last weekend – while their opponents from Welkom are on 30 five-pointers for the season.

The Leopards last won the Carling Currie Cup First Division in 2015, and the Down Touch Griffons were crowned champions in 2016 and 2017.

Teams:

Leopards: 15 Duren Hoffman, 14 Lincoln Daniels, 13 Dries Truter, 12 Tjaart Benade, 11 Eugene Hare, 10 Danrich Visagie, 9 Riaan Genis, 8 Andries Fouche, 7 Heinz Bertram, 6 Siya Mdaka, 5 Vincent Maruping, 4 Malembe Mpofu, 3 Ruan Swiegers, 2 Robey Leibrandt, 1 Komape Moloto Replacements: 16 Gustav du Rand, 17 Ruben Du Plessis, 18 JP Mans, 19 HP Swart, 20 Shirwin Cupido, 21 Edmund Rheeder, 22 Johan Retief, 23 Keagan Fortune.

Down Touch Griffons: 15 Dommenic Smit, 14 Granwill Matthys, 13 Niel Stannard, 12 Duan Pretorius, 11 Morne Joubert, 10 Aphiwe Stemele, 9 Jaywinn Juries, 8 Soso Xakalashe, 7 Ludio Williams, 6 Jean-Jacques Pretorius, 5 Hannes Janse van Rensburg, 4 Michael Benadie, 3 Doctor Booysen, 2 Kwezi Mkhafu, 1 Stephan de Jager. Replacements: 16 Dandre Delport, 17 Bandisa Ndlovu, 18 Christo Bezuidenhout, 19 Wikus Nieuwenhuis, 20 Thato Mavundla, 21 Ethan Williams, 22 Arthur-William Williams, 23 Gurswhin Wehr.

Match information:

Leopards v Down Touch Griffons

Date: Friday, 13 August

Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom

Kick-off: 16h30

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

Assistant Referees: Johre Botha, Vusi Msibi

Television Match Official: Egon Seconds

TV: SuperSport

Carling Currie Cup media resources: Latest News | Fixtures & Results | Standings


Issued by SA Rugby

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