Currie Cup 2019: Round 5 Saturday Preview
Cell C Sharks vs. Toyota Free State
Venue: Jonsson Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Date: Saturday, August 10, 2019
The Sharks have not had the sort of Currie Cup campaign that was expected of the defending champions. The currently sit sixth out of the seven teams on the log, with just six points from their first three games. An opening round defeat at the hands of Griquas looked to be a blip when they then beat Western Proving in round two. They failed to continue that momentum, however, losing to Pumas last time out after carrying a 17-9 lead into the break.
Cheetahs are in a much better position than the Sharks heading into Round 5. They are third on the log with 11 points from three games and they are looking good for one of the four playoff spots. Their strength has certainly been in attack, with their two wins coming when scoring 43 points against the Bulls and a massive 68 points against Griquas.
In a bid to step up their playoff chances in a game where only a win will do, Sharks coach Sean Everitt is making four changes to his starting XV against the Free State Cheetahs.
The moves see Mzamo Majola and Luke Stringer coming into the pack with Juan Schoeman and Jacques Vermeulen missing out. In the backline, Rhyno Smith gives up his fullback spot to Aphelele Fassi and Sanele Nohamba will wear the No. 9 jumper with Cameron Wright looking to interject his skillset off of the bench.
Cheetahs big piece of team news this week is that fly-half Tian Schoeman will not miss the rest of the Currie Cup competition after injuring his calf against the Golden Lions last time out. The game against the Sharks might come too quickly – though there will be a fitness test involved – but Schoeman’s injury is clearly not as bad as was first feared.
Marnus van der Merwe, however, will not be involved in this, or any other, game this season. The loose forward has broken a bone in his foot and he has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Can the Sharks win what has become a must-win game for them after such a slow start?
This should be a close game with two teams that know how to win, even if the Sharks haven’t shown that so much this season. With their backs against the wall, and with the Durban crowd roaring them on, back the home underdog at 1.35 with BetXChange.
Xerox Golden Lions vs. Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Date: Saturday, August 10, 2019
The Golden Lions are the form team in the comp and they are the only side still undefeated in the 2019 Currie Cup. They sit second on the log with 13 points after three games, only trailing Griquas entering the round who have played a game more. Their wins haven’t been dominant by any means, with the three victories coming by a combined five points.
The Blue Bulls have been a massive disappointment and they are bottom of the ladder entering Round 5. They have just five points from four games, losing all but one of their contests. The win was over the Pumas in a game that they Blue Bulls took 25-17, but the rest of their games haven’t been close with an average margin of defeat of over 17 points.
The Golden Lions may be going well in the comp, but they do have a few injury worries ahead of this particular match. A pair of players, lock Wilhelm van der Sluys and centre Jan-Louis la Grange – picked up concussion injuries last time out, while prop Jacobie Adriaanse went down with a calf strain.
Van der Sluys is the only one of the three players who has any chance of playing on Saturday, with the other pair joining the like of Dylan Smith and Courtnall Skosan on the sidelines.
The Blue Bulls are in a rough spot as they are already all but eliminated from playoff contention. Changes have been made to the team that will be led by Ivan van Zyl, with Tuks flanker Fred Eksteen set to make his Currie Cup debut as the team already looks towards the future. An injury to Ruan Steenkamp has depleted the teams already thin options in the back row.
The Blue Bulls are in crisis mode and even with the injuries that the Golden lions are carrying they have way too much for the away side here. The favourites are the ones to back here.