Semi-final berths to drive Currie Cup teams
The burning desire to stay in the running for semi-final berths will be a key driving force in the Currie Cup Premier Division this weekend. In a thrilling climax to the Currie Cup – brought to you by DirectAxis and Nashua – eight of the nine Premier Division teams still have at least a mathematical chance of advancing to the semi-finals, although this number is expected to be reduced following the weekend’s matches.
In Pretoria the Vodacom Blue Bulls will be looking to build on their convincing victories against the Steval Pumas and Xerox Golden Lions when they meet Griquas on Friday, but they will face tough competition as the Kimberley side come off four back-to-back victories.
Griquas pipped the Vodacom Blue Bulls 39-38 in the Currie Cup Qualifiers, but the men from Pretoria have won the last five match-ups between them in the Premier Division. The last time Griquas defeated the Vodacom Blue Bulls was back in 2012.
Fuelling both team’s motivation to win, the victorious side will finish this round in the top four on the log, which is invaluable given the fact that there are only two pool matches remaining following the weekend’s matches – with the Vodacom Blue Bulls sitting out one of these rounds.
Accurate goal-kicking has been an important source of points for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their last four clashes against Griquas, including the Currie Cup Qualifier. The Pretoria side kicked 17 conversions and nine penalties, accounting for 61 of their 166 points.
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain Hanro Liebenberg agreed that the game against the Griquas on Friday is shaping up to be of vital importance in the battle for the play-off place.
"I had a chat with the team and most of the guys realise that this is probably the most important game of the season with the log being so tight at the top," said Liebenberg.
"It's a must-win for us, it's an important game and we need to take confidence and momentum out of this game."
The Bulls did well against the Pumas, in stopping their big ball carriers from getting over the advantage line and Liebenberg added that the Griquas will also bring plenty of brawn to the game on Friday.
"That's something we identified during the week against the Pumas. They [Pumas] have good loose forwards carrying the ball and I think this weekend is going to be the same.
"Griquas are a physical pack and it’s going to be vital for us as the loose forwards to stop their momentum," he said.
Friday, 16 September
Vodacom Blue Bulls v Griquas
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Johan Greeff
Blue Bulls: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rudolph Snyman,3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Jason Jenkins, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Bjorn Basson/Divan Rossouw.
Griquas: 15 Adriaan Coertzen (captain), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Stephan Kotze , 2 Abraham Le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Wandile Putuma, 19 Jonathan Adendorf, 20 Renier Botha, 21 Andre Swart, 22 Eric Zana.