Currie Cup

Back to basics for Currie Cup teams

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The laws may have changed, but the basics to win important rugby matches have remained the same.

That much will be evident again on Saturday when Western Province will strive for a rare away Currie Cup win against the Blue Bulls at Loftus; at Coca-Cola Park where the Lions and Free State Cheetahs will both hope to get their first win; and in Kimberley where Griquas will want to stay on top of the log when they play the Leopards.

WP, after their impressive win over Currie Cup holders Sharks at Newlands last weekend, are bristling with confidence.

They believe they now have the tight five with a solid front row and two locks who are prepared to do the hard work – and coach Allister Coetzee has openly indicated they will take the Blue Bulls on in the scrums.

They did it with some success against the Sharks – and the WP’s declared method of warfare makes a mockery of those who state the changed laws and ELVs have made the scrum a largely redundant facet.

Similarly, the man who has the ability and is prepared to grovel on the ground as did Boland Coetzee and Burger Geldenhuys many years ago, could swing it in the match between the Lions and Free State.

Cobus Grobbelaar is that man for the Lions, and young Johan Wessels will have his work cut out against a professional fetcher who has very few peers in South Africa – and indeed the world.

Griquas did it with physicality an loads of talent against the Cheetahs last weekend, and that will no doubt again be their approach against the Leopards. And also behind the scrum the old style could well bring success again.

WP flyhalf Willem de Waal is admittedly somewhat one-dimensional, but his clever kicking, his pin-point up-and-unders and accuracy to the posts, again show that the ELVs, global or otherwise, did not really interfere with the basics.

De Waal’s wise old head is opposed by national Under-20 player Francois Brummer at flyhalf for the Blue Bulls.

How he fares will to a large extent determine whether the sough-after away win will go WP’s way, or whether the Bulls will keep on track with a home victory.

Underrated, and because of Fourie du Preez’s quality also underplayed, Heini Adams at scrumhalf will need another game of last weekend’s quality to help Brummer ease into the big time after only 55 minutes as a replacement to date.

The Blue Bulls will fight fire with fire. They have selected six front-rowers to withstand the expected WP challenge in the scrums which should provide the connoisseur with a battle royal.

It should be noted that the Blue Bulls will have their Super Rugby front row threesome to start, and even the honest scrummaging of WP’s former All Black lock Chris Jack, and ex-Lions Anton van Zyl, might not be enough if the Bulls locks do their bit.

Another interesting tussle will be that of the loose forwards with Springbok Luke Watson and near-Bok Dewald Potgieter holding the key with their ability or otherwise to galvanise their fellow loosies into a unit.

It will be a big one, in the true tradition of the old North-South derbies – and also an indicator of how the season could develop.

— Both the Lions and the Free State are seeking their first win. After Saturday, both will have played at home and away in their two matches, the Lions losing away and the Free State at home.

The gutsy display by the Lions in only really going down in the last minute against the Blue Bulls at Loftus, hides the fact they had to make 113 tackles – plus those they missed – in that match.

This is the sort of statistic that doesn’t lie because it tires the legs to the point of standstill. And while the Lions will use the loss of captain Grobbelaar just after halftime as the reason for their giving away their 13-point lead last weekend, they will also have to admit they played against an over-confident and, initially, also a disjointed side.

This the Free State will certainly not be. They know what to expect, they have the quality up front and back, and also the resolve after their unexpected loss to Griquas last weekend.

— Although there will be less interest in the match between Griquas and the leopards kin Kimberley, the home side have already shown – as they have threatened to do in recent seasons – they will be a factor this season.

The leopards, newcomers to the Premier Division, have to stand up to the expected physical onslaught of Jonathan Mokuena’s well-coached pack and a competent backline where halfbacks Sarel Pretorius and Naas Olivier will be key to the success.

The Leopards will not merely lie down, but Griquas should nevertheless remain on top of the log if they keep their feet on the ground after last week’s away bonus-point win over the Free State.

— In Durban on Friday night the Sharks are expected to get onto the winning column of the log against a difficult Boland Kavaliers side that will, if the past is any indication, not be as dangerous away from Wellington as when they face visitors to their clammy home field.

It is important that the Sharks show they have overcome the loss of their Springboks and other players to injury, and they have the depth to compete.

The weekend’s fixtures:

Premier Division (home teams first):

Friday:

Sharks v Kavaliers, 7.10pm

Saturday:

Griquas v Leopards, 3pm;
Lions v Free State, 3pm;
Blue Bulls v Western Province, 5.05pm

First Division:
 
Friday

Border v SWD Eagles, 5pm;

Saturday:

Griffons v Might Elephants, 3pm;
Pumas v Valke, 3pm.

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