The pressure is set to rise significantly in the Currie Cup Premier Division this weekend as all seven participating teams still have a chance of securing semi-final berths in the competition.
In celebration of Heritage Day, Crown National Foods will give away free boerewors rolls to the first 250 children at their stands at all three matches, while 2500 fans will receive spice sachets, with boerewors tasting also available while stocks last.
The boerewors stands will be housed at the parking area on the south side of Toyota stadium in Bloemfontein, on the outfield alongside the bandstand at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban, and on the Castle Lawns near DHL Newlands in Cape Town.
In Bloemfontein, the Steval Pumas will look to register their first Currie Cup victory against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs since 2014 when the sides meet at in Bloemfontein on Friday. The hosts come off back-to-back defeats, while the Steval Pumas will enter the match with confidence after toppling DHL Western Province.
While a victory for either side will boost their chances of a semi-final berth, a defeat for Toyota Free State Cheetahs could see them drop out of the top four, the while the Steval Pumas will be under pressure to fight for a semi-final berth in the next few weeks if they suffer a defeat.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs’ side features 11 personnel changes, among them the inclusion of Blitzbok Cecil Afrika on the wing, hooker Joseph Dweba and flyhalf Robbie Petzer, while another Springbok Sevens star, Chris Dry, will again lead the team.
The Steval Pumas made only two personnel changes, which sees hooker Frankie Herne and flanker Brian Shabangu earn starts.
The Cell C Sharks will have their sights set on cementing their semi-final spot and strengthening their position at the top of the log when they meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Durban on Saturday. The visitors, in turn, will also be determined to register a victory to remain within a realistic range of working their way into the top four as the pool stages draw to a close.
The home team are on an eight-match winning run, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls won their first match in five outings last week, and both sides will be determined to build on that.
The Cell C Sharks have included Springbok squad members Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker) and Dan du Preez (loose forward), in the starting team in two of five changes to the side, following their release to play Currie Cup rugby. New Bok squad member, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder, however, will miss the match due to a family commitment, and has been replaced by Michael Classens.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls, in turn, have named Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard among the replacements in a side that shows two changes to the starting team, with prop Conraad van Vuuren replacing Matthys Basson and winger Johnny Kotze taking over from Rabs Maxwane.
DHL Western Province, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from their defeat last week and make amends for going down against Tafel Lager Griquas in Kimberley in the first half of the competition when the sides meet at DHL Newlands on Saturday. The visitors are currently languishing at the foot of the log after four successive defeats, which makes a victory vital to keep alive their slim semi-final hopes, while the hosts will want to remain in the top four and in the running for a possible home semi-final.
Tafel Lager Griquas’ best result in Cape Town since the 1996 season was a draw in 2011, but they will have to step up their defence, in particular, to give DHL Western Province a run, as they have conceded close to double the amount of points to the hosts so far in the competition.
DHL Western Province bolstered their starting team with three returning national squad members, Dillyn Leyds, Damian de Allende and Wilco Louw, among six changes to the side that went down last week. The clash will be particularly memorable for captain and lock Chris van Zyl, who will earn his 50th cap.
Tafel Lager Griquas, in turn, made seven personnel changes, which features a new captain, flanker Sias Koen, and a new-look front row with prop Devon Martinus and hooker Wilmar Arnoldi earning starts.
In a special treat for fans at DHL Newlands and Emirates Airline Park, competition partners DirectAxis will again capture supporters at on the FANCAM, which will enable them to find and tag themselves on an interactive 360o image and share it on their social media accounts. Fans who register on www.directaxis.fancam.com before the game will be notified when the image goes live. A virtual Currie Cup trophy will also be hidden on the image, and those who find it stand a chance to win a VIP trip to the Currie Cup final.
Currie Cup Round 11 fixtures:
Friday, 22 September:
Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Steval Pumas
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Clayton Blommetjies, Vuyani Maqina, Ali Mgijima, Lloyd Greeff, Cecil Afrika, Robbie Petzer, Zee Mkhabela, Jasper Wiese, Chris Dry (captain), Daniel Maartens, Carl Wegner, Dennis Visser, Erich de Jager, Joseph Dweba, Gert Kotze. Replacements: Reinach Venter, Andrew Kuhn, Jeremy Jordaan, Nicolaas Immelman, JP Smith, JW Jonker, Stephan Janse van Rensburg.
Steval Pumas – Justin van Staden, Jerome Pretorius, Gerrit Smith, Hennie Skorbinski (captain), Ruwellyn Isbell, Kobus Marais, Stefan Ungerer, Willie Engelbrecht, Thembelani Bholi, Brian Shabangu, Hugo Kloppers, Stefan Willemse, Pieter Scholtz, Frankie Herne, Kwezi Mona. Replacements: Marko Janse van Rensburg, De-Jay Terblanche, Cameron Lindsay, Fancois Kleinhans, Hilton Lobberts, Theo Maree, Selom Gavor.
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Jaco Kotze & Eon van Zyl
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe
Saturday, 23 September:
Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Cell C Sharks – Garth April, Odwa Ndungane, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, S’bu Nkosi, Curwin Bosch, Michael Classens, Daniel du Preez, Jacques Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Botha (captain), Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Jean Droste, Tera Mtembu, Cameron Wright, Tristan Blewett, Rhyno Smith.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Burger Odendaal (captain), JT Jackson, Johnny Kotze, Marnitz Boshoff, Ivan van Zyl, Jano Venter, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Piet van Zyl, Handrè Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Ruhan Meiring & Rodney Boneparte
TMO: Christie du Preez
DHL Western Province v Tafel Lager Griquas
DHL Western Province – Dillyn Leyds, Seabelo Senatla, Huw Jones, Damian de Allende, Werner Kok, Damian Willemse, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nizaam Carr, Cobus Wiese, Jaco Coetzee, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl (capt), Wilco Louw, Chad Solomon, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Dean Muir, Caylib Oosthuizen, Johan du Toit, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Justin Phillips, Robert du Preez, Ruhan Nel.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Eric Zana, Ederies Arendse, Kyle Steyn, Tertius Kruger, Enver Brandt, George Whitehead, Renier Botha, Kevin Kaba, Sias Koen (captain), De Wet Kruger, Sintu Manjezi, Jonathan Janse Van Rensburg, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Wilmar Arnoldi, Devon Martinus. Replacements: AJ Le Roux, Liam Hendricks, Shaun McDonald, Conway Pretorius, Christiaan Meyer, Christopher Bosch, AJ Coertzen.
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen & Sinethemba Mrulwa
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans