Defending Currie Cup champions Free State Cheetahs play resurgent Western Province at Newlands on Saturday in what is one of the two glamour Currie Cup matches on a weekend where none of the eight sides can afford to lose their encounters.
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The other high-profile match is between the Blue Bulls and the Sharks at Loftus, also on Saturday, while the Xerox Lions, winless after two outings, not only have to win at Ellis Park but also have to beat the Valke convincingly on Friday night.
In the other match, Griquas will also strive for their first win against the Boland Kavaliers in Wellington on Friday afternoon.
The Free State were not convincing in their 22-18 win over the Lions last weekend and scraped through against Griquas in Kimberley the previous week.
Whether they can lift their game enough to provide adequate support for their new match-winner Chris Rossouw at flyhalf will hold the key to this match.
Free State simply have to concentrate for 80 minutes, withstand WP’s onslaught up front and do more to breach the defences of the opposition than last week when they scored only one try.
The home side, on the other hand, will be upbeat. They dominated possession against the Blue Bulls last Saturday, have a lively backline and a good set of loose forwards where Francois Louw was outstanding.
Their tight five are also much better than given credit for.
Their new approach to revive the traditional WP running game under coach Allister Coetzee could make for some enjoyable rugby-and all WP have to do is add the quality of last week to stay on course.
The Sharks have two home wins from two outings. They struggled to get the better of WP and only came to light in the second half against the Kavaliers last weekend.
They need to play at that intensity and level for 80 minutes if they hope to beat the Blue Bulls at Loftus – something they have done all to frequently in recent times for the Bulls to be comfortable.
As it is, the Sharks have the type of game to break the defensive pattern of the Bulls which was outstanding against WP.
The Bulls, on the other hand, will have to win more possession than against WP and grab their chances. A home loss will do their aspirations no good at all.
The Lions, with a single log point from two matches, simply have to beat the high-riding Valke at Ellis Park. Eugene Eloff’s charges must be doubting their own ability and if they want to make a consecutive final a turnaround is urgently needed in Friday night’s match.
Whether this can be achieved with a reshuffled side only time will tell. The Valke, even away from home, can be a difficult proposition once they get into their stride.
Griquas have lost both their matches – to the Free State and the Valke -thus far, and need an away win to keep in touch. The Kavaliers, especially at home, are always a difficult side. They also have plenty of talent and came from 17 points behind against the Valke to win. They also had the Sharks on the rack for about half their match last weekend before succumbing.
This should be a good match as well with Griquas probably slightly better equipped but always on their heels when away from home.
Fixtures (home teams first): Premier Division: Friday: Kavaliers v Griquas, 3.30pm; Lions v Valke, 7.10pm.
Saturday: WP v Free State Cheetahs, 3pm; Blue Bulls v Sharks, 5.05pm First Division: Friday: Bulldogs v Griffons, 7pm Saturday: Mighty Elephants v Leopards, 3.30pmTweet