While the British & Irish Lions Tests against the Springboks are still hanging in the Covid balance – their game against the Bulls at the weekend has already fallen by the wayside – there will be Currie Cup rugby played in South Africa this week/weekend.
Here is a look at some of the games between July 7 and July 9, with the Sharks vs. Golden Lions contest not on the board at the time of writing. I would take the Sharks by something in the region of two converted tries in that one:
Western Province VS Griquas – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Both of these sides were involved in thrillers last weekend with Wester Province beating the Sharks 32-31 and Griquas just falling short as they went down 26-22 to the Pumas in Nelspruit. These results see WP top the log with 11 points after three games, while Griquas picked up a losing bonus point to stay in fifth place on six points ahead of both the Golden Lions and the Cheetahs.
There will be a new (old) face in the Western Province 23 as centre Juan de Jongh – a 19 Test Springbok – makes his return to the team for the first time since 2016 after finishing a spell with Wasps in the English Premiership. The 33-year-old will start this one from the bench. Six changes to the starting XV from last time out include returns from injury for centre Dan du Plessis, hooker JJ Kotze, and flanker Nama Xaba.
Griquas have fought hard this season and haven’t looked outclassed. They will lose on the scoreboard but find a way to cover the +19.5 point spread.
Free State Cheetahs VS Pumas – Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
The Cheetahs have yet to really get their Currie Cup campaign underway. After a bye in Round 1, the Cheetahs travelled to Kimberley and lost by 21 to Griquas in a scoreline that flattered the home side thanks to some late scores. Last week’s match against the Bulls was postponed due to Covid cases within the Cheetahs camp and the Bulls were awarded four points. As a result, the Cheetahs sit bottom of the log with zero points.
The Pumas, on the other hand, are flying. They are second on the log with an impressive 10 points after three rounds of play. Dominating the Golden Lions 39-10 in Round 1 was a statement of intent, one that they have pushed on from in a way we are not used to seeing. They went down by just five in a battling display against the Blue Bulls before beating Griquas 26-22 on their home soil last time out. This is a team full of confidence and with a fair bit of momentum on their side.
This is an interesting line. There is no real reason – based on what we have seen this year at least – that the CHeetahs should be 3.5 point favourites here, even at home. I certainly like the Pumas to cover at +3.5 with BetXChange and I would have zero objection with anyone placing a bet on the away team to win straight up at 1.40 here.