The Cell C Sharks will hunt their seventh successive Currie Cup victory – a feat they last achieved in 2010 – when they travel to Nelspruit to take on the Steval Pumas on Friday evening as the competition enters the ninth round.
The KwaZulu-Natalians, who leaped to the top of the table last weekend, have been in fine form this season, with their only defeat so far in the opening round of the competition against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
They will, however, face a determined Steval Pumas outfit looking to return to winning ways after being pipped by one point last week. The Cell C Sharks won the last three matches between the sides, which included a 29-0 victory in the second round.
But the Steval Pumas emerged victorious in Nelspruit in 2014 and 2015, which will boost their confidence. The Lowvelders have made five changes to their team for this match, which includes the return of fullback Justin van Staden to the starting XV, while prop De-Jay Terblanche will achieve a special milestone as he plays his 170th match for the union.
The Cell C Sharks welcome back Springbok flyhalf Curwin Bosch in one of four changes to the starting team, with the others being the inclusion of props Thomas du Toit and Ross Geldenhuys in the front row and Garth April at fullback.
Tafel Lager Griquas, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from a disappointing result last week when they host the Xerox Golden Lions, who are fresh off their first win in five outings, in Kimberley on Saturday. The hosts have won only one of their last six matches against the Johannesburg side dating back to 2013, but they will take comfort from the fact that they went down against the Xerox Golden Lions by only five points at Emirates Airline Park earlier in the season.
Xerox Golden Lions coach Swys de Bruin’s side shows five personnel changes, with prop Jacobie Adriaanse and Kwagga Smith starting, while Tafel Lager Griquas made four changes up-front which sees hooker AJ le Roux and former Junior Springbok prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen feature in a new-look front row.
In Cape Town, DHL Western Province and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs will look to get their campaigns back on track after defeats last week, while the hosts will have the added incentive of earning their first win in four matches against the Bloemfontein side. The Capetonians, however, won three of their last four matches at DHL Newlands prior to their home defeat last season, which will inspire them.
DHL Western Province prop Alistair Vermaak will earn his 50th cap as he returns to the starting line-up in one of five changes, which also sees Jano Vermaak back from Springbok duty and Blitzbok star Werner Kok included in the starting team. The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, in turn, made only two changes to their starting XV with Ernst Stapelberg named at flyhalf and Marco Mason at fullback.
Currie Cup Round 9 fixtures:
Friday, 8 September
Steval Pumas v Cell C Sharks
Steval Pumas – Justin van Staden, JP Lewis, Jerome Pretorius, Hennie Skorbinski (captain), Ruwellyn Isbell, Kobus Marais, Reynier van Rooyen, Willie Engelbrecht, Thembelani Bholi, Chris Cloete, Cameron Lindsay, Stefan Willemse, Pieter Scholtz, Mark Pretorius, De-Jay Terblanche. Replacements: Frank Herne, Khwezi Mona, Hugo Kloppers, Brian Shabangu, Theo Maré, Sias Ebersohn, Devon Williams.
Cell C Sharks – Garth April, Tythan Adams, Jeremy Ward, Lukhanyo Am, S’bu Nkosi, Curwin Bosch, Louis Schreuder, Tera Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Botha (capt), Tyler Paul, Ross Geldenhuys, Akker van der Merwe, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Jean Droste, Wian Vosloo, Michael Claassens, Marius Louw, Rhyno Smith.
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Pieter Maritz & Stephan van Dyk
TMO: Johan Greeff
Tafel Lager Griquas v Xerox Golden Lions
Tafel Lager Griquas – AJ Coertzen (captain), Ederies Arendse, Tertius Kruger, Johnathan Francke, Koch Marx, Andre Swarts, Christiaan Meyer, De Wet Kruger, Sias Koen, Wendal Wehr, Pieter Janse van Vuren, Shaun Mcdonald, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, AJ Le Roux, Liam Hendricks. Replacements: Wilmar Arnoldi, Stephan Kotze, Sintu Manjezi, Kevin Kaba, Renier Botha, George Whitehead, Eric Zana.
Xerox Golden Lions – Jaco van der Walt, Sylvian Mahuza, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Harold Vorster, Anthony Volmink, Ashlon Davids, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Ryan Kankowski, Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Rhyno Herbst, Jacobie Adriaanse, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen (captain). Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole, Johannes Jonker, Robert Kruger, Fabian Booysen, Branco du Preez, Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Referees: Stephan Geldenhuys & Nico Schmahl
TMO: JJ Wagner
Saturday, 9 September:
DHL Western Province v Toyota Free State Cheetahs
DHL Western Province – Craig Barry, Werner Kok, EW Viljoen, Huw Jones, Ruhan Nel, Damian Willemse, Jano Vermaak, Nizaam Carr, Cobus Wiese, Jaco Coetzee, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl (captain), Wilco Louw, Ramone Samuels, Ali Vermaak. Replacements: Chad Solomon, Michael Kumbirai, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kobus van Dyk, Dewaldt Duvenage, Robert du Preez, Dan Kriel.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Marco Mason, Carel Jan Coetzee, JW Jonker, Steph Janse van Rensburg, Luther Obi, Ernst Stapelberg, JP Smith, Jasper Wiese, Chris Dry (captain), Junior Pokomela, Dennis Visser, Nicolaas Immelman, Luan de Bruin, Reinach Venter, Johan Kotze. Replacements: Marnus van der Merwe, Andrew Kuhn, Siba Qoma, Daniel Maartens, Fifi Rampeta, Dian Badenhorst, Ryno Eksteen.
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen & Divan Uys
TMO: Shaun Veldsman