Currie Cup 2019: Round 4 Saturday Preview
Phakisa Pumas vs. Cell C Sharks
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Mbombela
Date: Saturday, August 3, 2019
The Pumas are the only winless team in the competition after slipping to three defeats in a row. With their playoff chances hanging on by a thread, this is a game they simply must win to turn their season around. They have, at least, been competitive, with all their defeats coming by eight points or less, with the 38-37 opening day loss to the Golden Lions being indicative of the challenge they can present.
The Sharks are looking to continue their momentum from their last match against Western Province this weekend. They sit in the middle of the table on five points after beating Western Province and losing to Griquas. This is a match they need to win with some level of comfort ti kickstart their campaign.
Pumas are not making drastic changes despite being winless from three games and sitting bottom of the log. Their one selection change for this week sees Ginter Smuts making his Currie Cup debut for the Pumas, replacing Reynier can Rooyen in the No. 20 jersey.
The side has been working hard in training according to coach Jimmy Stonehouse, hoping that the players he has available will be enough to win some games with the right coaching and game plan adjustments. The Pumas are close to winning and this could be their week to take that step.
Sharks are going to be looking to improve the little things and work on their breakdown to breakdown consistency in this clash. They have made just one change to the team after their bye, bringing in Phepsi Buthelezi as Jacques Vermeulen is dropped to the bench.
Pumas are a physical bunch, so expect to see the Sharks play with speed and accuracy to avoid being dragged into a forward based contest.
It is hard to see past the Sharks here, even on the road. Pumas have been so close in their losses, but they face a team that is rested from the bye and that seems to be rounding into some good form. If the Sharks play with the same work-rate that they did against WP then they should come out on top.
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs. Tafel Lager Griquas
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Saturday, August 3, 2019
The Blue Bulls might be the most disappointing team in the competition through Round 4. They looked lifeless in a 20-5 opening day defeat at the hands of Western Province and they were blown away by Cheetahs the following week. Their 25-17 win over Pumas last time out means they are sixth in the table on five points.
Griquas, on the other hand, have had an outstanding start to the season. They have 10 points from two wins and one defeat, beating the Sharks and Pumas in the first two rounds. Last week, however, the team was mauled 68-14 by the Cheetahs in a worrying display. They need to rebound quickly here.
The Bulls have made one big change ahead of their clash with Griquas on Saturday. Springbok fly-half Marnitz Boshoff slides back to the bench as he is replaced in the starting lineup by Manie Libbok. The Pretoria outfit are second bottom of the log and the hope is that a change in the playmaker role will add some much-needed spark to their attacking options.
Brent Janse van Rensburg again has his Northern Cape squad overachieving. It is the work-rate of Griquas that trips up the top teams, their desire to win games and play for one another despite the players often being outclassed in their individual matchups.
The big change in their lineup is the return of ex-Lions winger Anthony Volminck to the fullback sport for Griquas. He was sorely missed in the defeat by the Cheetahs and the reshuffle allows captain George Whitehead to slot back into his preferred No. 10 role.
The Bulls are heavily favored here but count this version of Griquas out at your own risk. We like them in an upset, so take Griquas at 2.30 as the money play.