The Free State Cheetahs will be looking for their fourth consecutive bonus-point win in the Currie Cup when they host Griquas on Saturday.
Free State Cheetahs vs Griquas
The high-flying Cheetahs have been a class apart so far, with new head coach Rory Duncan striking an excellent balance between youth and experience in his team selection.
This has seen them secure three consecutive bonus-point victories against the Sharks, Western Province and Pumas. But with six of their remaining nine matches scheduled to overlap with their debut season in the Pro14, Free State need to maintain this form before the coaches are tasked with juggling their squad between two competitions.
Griquas have battled bravely in their four games, but could only seal one win. That victory did come against Western Province in the previous round, though, which will put the Cheetahs on high alert.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rosco Speckman, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11, Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ryno Eksteen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Henco Venter 6 Neil Jordaan (c), 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armand Koster, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2, Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Ox Nche, 17 Joseph Dweba, 18 Rynier Bernado, 19 Chris Dry, 20 Zee Mkhabela 21 Sergeal Petersen 22 Malcolm Jaer.
Griquas – 15 Eric Zana, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Adriaan Coertzen (c), 10 Andre Swarts, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Kevin Kaba, 7 Shaun McDonald, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 FP Pelser, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Devon Martinus.
Subs: 16 AJ Le Roux, 17 Stephan Kotze, 18 Sintu Manjezi, 19 DeWet Kruger, 20 Renier Botha, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Christopher Bosch.
Western Province vs Blue Bulls
The Bulls had made an encouraging start to their Currie Cup campaign, before losing to the Sharks on Wednesday. By contrast, Western Province have struggled to regain the form which lifted them to glory in the Provincial Rugby Challenge.
Province’s only win came against the equally inconsistent Pumas, but the result was flanked by defeats against Free State and Griquas. In the match against Griquas, Province delivered a particularly lacklustre performance, and a similar showing will result in defeat against the Bulls.
WP have received a massive boost with the return to fitness of centre Huw Jones and hooker Scarra Ntubeni. Coach John Dobson has also re-introduced Damian Willemse and Jaco Vermaak as the halfback pairing.
Western Province – 15 SP Marais, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Eddie Zandberg, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dan Kriel.
Blue Bulls – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Kefentse Mahlo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Boom Prinsloo (c), 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Abongile Nonkontwana, 19 Shaun Adendorff, 20 Andre Warner, 21 JT Jackson, 22 Duncan Matthews.
Golden Lions vs Sharks
Having lost to the Pumas and Blue Bulls, nothing less than victory will be good enough for the hosts on Saturday.
Coach Swys de Bruin has wielded the axe by making 11 changes to the starting lineup. Several of the players brought in, including Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sylvian Mahuza and Cyle Brink, were regulars in the Super Rugby team.
The Sharks fell short in the opening round against Free State, but have since chalked up three wins, including an away victory against the previously unbeaten Bulls.
While this should be a closely-fought encounter, the Sharks’ recent form could spell trouble for the Lions.
Golden Lions – 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ryan Kankowski (c), 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Robert Kruger, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Bobby de Wee, 19 Hacjivan Dayimani, 20 Marco Janse van Vuren, 21 Siya Masuku, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Sharks – 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 S’busiso Nkosi, 10 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs (TBC): Akker van der Merwe, Inny Radebe, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Jean Droste, Louis Schreuder, Michael Claassens, Mzamo Majola, Wian Vosloo.