Xerox Golden Lions vs Tafel Lager Griquas
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2019
The Lions pinched a home semi-final spot with their win over the Griquas in Kimberley last weekend. The win took them above their opponents on the log, with other results then leading to a rematch between the two teams at the semi-final stage. The Lions needed the win after dropping two games in a row and almost falling out of the top two sports.
The Griquas, on the other hand, will be devastated to have let a home semi-final slip through their fingers. They finished third on the log with 21 points from four wins and two defeats, just one point behind the table-topping Cheetahs and Golden Lions. They have been in great form all season, with the exception of their 68-14 mauling at the hands of the Cheetahs in Round 3.
The Ellis Park advantage is going to be big for the Lions here. Their young team has been up and down all season, but the win over the Griquas last weekend will give them the confidence that they can beat the Kimberley based side in back to back weeks.
The team is unchanged, the whole match-day squad is unchanged actually, with the Lions going with a side that they know can get the job done against this particular opponent.
For the Griquas, the big question is how their focus has been affected by the news that head coach Brent Janse van Rensburg will be leaving the province at the end of the season. The destination of Janse van Rensburg has not been announced yet, just that it is to a higher level of the game.
This will affect the team in one of two ways. Either they will rally around their coach, wanting to send him out on a high after winning the competition, or the players will simply not be as focused for this tie.
Their biggest change of personnel sees Christiaan Meyer come into the side at scrum-half over Chriswill September.
The Golden Lions are the favorites here as the home advantage is huge in this tie. Having said that, the Griquas have to be considered as an upset possibility given that when the two teams met last week they lost by one point after bombing two obvious try-scoring opportunities with the line at their mercy. We fancy an upset here with the Griquas at 2.25 with BetXChange to win outright.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs vs. Cell C Sharks
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2019
The Cheetahs secure their home semi-final – and finishing first on the log – when they took down Western Province 38-33 last weekend. The result left the Cheetahs with 22 points from their six matches in the competition, with this high scoring team putting up 38 or more points on four different occasions this season. One of their two defeats all campaign was against the Sharks in Round 5.
The Sharks did things the hard way to reach the semi-final. They are, though, the form team, having won their last three games on the bounce after a poor start to the season. They finished in fourth place on the log with 19 points from six games. The Sharks put up their highest points total of the season last week against the Bulls but also conceded their most points to date in the 48-40 win.
Having home advantage is crucial to the Cheetahs chances here. This is a team that can score a lot of points in a hurry as they play behind a forward pack that has been dominant for much of the 2019 Currie Cup season.
It is that forward play that the Cheetahs will look for again against the Sharks. Expect their scrum to be the dominant force in the game, allowing their talented back-rowers to continue excelling both at the breakdown and in the loose.
Erich de Jager, Ox Niche and Dries Swanepoel all come into the side for this one.
It is one change only for the Sharks as they travel to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs. Curwin Bosch has made a timely return from his back injury to enter the lineup at fly-half, giving the Sharks and experienced and calm pivot to work the ball around.
This is a confident team – as they should be after three wins in a row – with their youngsters stepping up after being given something of a baptism by fire over the early rounds. Don’t expect too much flash here, just a solid effort working through the phases.
The Cheetahs have had a very good Currie Cup and that will continue here. They have scored 34 tries (the most) and conceded just 21 (the least left in the comp.) showing an outstanding balance between attacking and defensive work rate. The Sharks will give them a scare early, but the Cheetahs will have too much for their visitors to overcome.
Look for a home win at 1-10 points (2.00 with BetXChange).