Well, the Griquas team has finally been announced, so let’s get straight into predicting the round 8 results.
Game 1: Cheetahs v Western Province (Friday 5:05pm)
The fourth-placed Cheetahs host high-flying Province and will want to prove they’re a better team than last week’s Durban thrashing would suggest. Naka Drotske, though, has made some rather panicked-seeming changes to his team in the hope of getting a campaign first 80-minute performance out of his charges. Allister Coetzee’s men, on the other hand, appear more settled, calm and collected and it’s hard to see them not walking away with the points. Western Province to win by 4.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Piet Lindeque, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Johannes Prinsloo (captain), 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Pieter Labuschagné, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Freddie Ngoza, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Rayno Benjamin, 22 Willie du Plessis.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Tazz Fuzani, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Josh Katzen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis.
Game 2: Lions v Sharks (Friday 7:10pm)
Ellis Park has not been a happy venue for the Sharks of late, but the really big challenge for this team will be to replicate the superb performance from last week – away from home. They’ve lost two of their key forwards, but the men coming up couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to prove to the coaches that they belong in the starting team. The Lions were also convincing last week, without ever really stretching themselves, so their challenge will be to produce their best performance of the season too. Altogether, a mouth-watering contest. We see the Sharks winning by just 3 points, based on a slightly better overall squad.
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Deon Helberg, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Guy Cronje, 21 Grant Janke, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Brynard Stander, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco van Tonder.
Game 3: Griquas v Blue Bulls (Saturday 2:00pm)
Griquas have been forced into changes once more, whilst the Bulls also seem unsure as to exactly what their best team should look like. Don’t expect a high quality game here, that’s for sure. One thing that can be said, though, is that it’s taken almost super-human efforts from tournament’s contenders to eke out narrow wins in Kimberley. This Bulls side simply isn’t good enough to win there. Griquas by 2 points.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo , 14 Richard Lawson, 13 JP Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Brendan Pitzer, 18 Patrick O’Brien, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Jean Stemmet
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten/Dean Greyling, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Ulrich Beyers, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.