North-South derby kicks off Currie Cup Premier Division
The Currie Cup Premier Division will get underway with a bang on Friday with the Vodacom Blue Bulls taking on DHL Western Province in a thrilling North-South battle at Loftus Versfeld, which is expected to set the tone for the competition.
The two most successful Currie Cup sides ever clash in what is expected to be a thrilling encounter, as the Vodacom Blue Bulls look to make the most of their home ground advantage against the 2014 champions, who in turn will be determined to pick up where they left off last season, when they finished as runners-up to the Xerox Golden Lions.
This match is a repeat of the 2015 semi-final, when the Cape side emerged 23-18 victors in Pretoria. Earlier this season, DHL Western Province beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 30-16 in Cape Town, which means they will be going for a third successive win over the men in light blue.
•Discipline is key: Penalties proved to be a key source of points for in the Currie Cup semi-final between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province last season. Blue Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman kicked six penalties for his team’s 18 points, while Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez kicked three penalties for all his team’s first half points.
The last time these teams met: Earlier this season, Western Province beat the Blue Bulls by 30-16 in the first round of Currie Cup qualifiers in Cape Town. WP outscored their visitors by three tries to one and held a 20-16 half-time lead Daniel du Pessis, Tim Whitehead and Meyer Swanepoel scored tries for WP and Brandon Thomson slotted three penalties and three conversions. For the Bulls, Nqobisizwe Mxoli scored a try and Tony Jantjies kicked a conversion and three penalties.
Team news: Bjorn Basson will start at full-back for the Blue Bulls. The Springbok flyer will form a potent back three with Jade Stighling and Jamba Ulengo. Tian Schoeman and Piet van Zyl are the halfback pairing while Burger Odendaal and Dries Swanepoel line up in midfield. T
he side is captained by Springbok loose-forward Arno Botha who starts at number eight alongside flankers Jannes Kirsten and Ruan Steenkamp while Marvin Orie and Jason Jenkins pack down in the second row. Jaco Visagie starts at hooker with Entienne Swanepoel and Pierre Schoeman the run-on props.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named an experienced side, with only Eli Snyman new to the current squad. The Junior Springbok will making his first appearance in the senior competition from the bench.
Western Province coach John Dobson has picked a youthful team for this clash with wings Leolin Zas and Khanyo Ngcukana, centre Daniel du Plessis, number eight Jacques Vermeulen, lock JD Schickerling and replacement back Brandon Thomsonall who is still eligible for WP U-21. Zas and Ngcukana will form a back three with full-back Scott van Breda, whilst Du Plessis partners Huw Jones in midfield.
Fly-half Robert du Preez and Jano Vermaak will form the halfback pairing. Vermeulen is joined in the back row by flankers Jurie van Vuuren and Rynhardt Elstadt. Schickerling is in the second row alongside captain Chris Van Zyl, and tighthead prop Wilco Louw links up with Scarra Ntubeni and Alistair Vermaak in the front row. Thomson is amongst the backline replacements, along with scrum-half Godlen Masimla and utility back Johnny Kotze.
Hooker Chad Solomon and props Oli Kebble and JP Smith form the front row cover on the replacements bench alongside loose forward Kobus van Dyk.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15 Bjorn Basson, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha (c), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Entienne Swanepoel, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 Eli Snyman, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Dan Kriel
Western Province: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Daniel du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Jacques Vermeulen, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 JP Smith, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Brandon Thomson, 22 Johnny Kotze
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Vusi Msibi, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Johan Greeff