It’s make or break for a number of teams in the closing rounds of the Currie Cup taking place this weekend this weekend with key clashes scheduled for Nelspruit, Johannesburg and Kimberley as teams aim to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
A lot is at stake but the Pumas and the Lager Griquas made things difficult for themselves when they lost their mid-week matches and they go into this weekend’s matches against the Cheetahs and Western Province with the aim of staying in the race to the playoffs.
It is worth noting that bottom of the log Lions have bene eliminated from the race for the semi-finals while the Cheetahs and the Griquas does not have their fate in their own hands as the advantage is with the Pumas and Western Province.
Pumas VS Cheetahs
This is a must win for this two teams with the Pumas, who looked like they were sailing into the semi-finals for much of their game against the Blue Bulls on Wednesday, looking to stay clear from the Griquas.
That defeat for the Pumas against the Bulls has left them in the four way dog fight for places in the semi-finals over the remaining two round robin matches as teams are fighting to get home semi-finals.
Their chances of making it to the semi-final won’t come to an end this weekend if they lose to the Cheetahs but defeat will certainly make their mission harder.
But they can take some consolation from the fact that their two biggest rivals for a top four place in the form of Western Province and the Griquas are playing each other on Sunday and they will cancel other out with one game to go.
And the remaining for the Griquas is against the Pumas.
For the Cheetahs, they will retain a slight mathematical chance of making the playoffs if they beat the Pumas but they will be eliminated from the race with defeat in their match that week kicks off at the almost unprecedented pre-noon time of 11.45.
Pick: Pumas Wins by 0.58 at BetXChange
Lions VS Sharks
Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has made minimal changes to the side that defeated the Cheetahs last weekend with hookers swapping jerseys as Dan Jooste gets a start and Kerron van Vuuren playing off the bench.
Gerbrandt Grobler makes his debut in the second row, starting in place of Le Roux Roets who has been given a well-deserved break, and Phepsi Buthelezi’s return from rest marks the final change amongst the forwards.
Everitt has selected Grant Williams and Lionel Cronje as his halfback pairing with the duo coming in for Cameron Wright and Boeta Chamberlain in the only changes to the backline.
The Sharks will be wary of the intentions of Werstern Province, who are within catching distance of them if the Cape team win in Kimberley and the Sharks lose in Johannesburg.
That will leave the final game between the coastal rivals as a decider for who grabs home ground advantage in the semi-final round.
For the Lions they will be playing for pride as they were eliminated from the race for the semi-finals midweek been eliminated by Western Province, who in the process leapfrogged the Pumas and Griquas into third place on the log.
Pick: Sharks Wins by 0.28 at BetXChange
Griquas VS Western Province
Loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani makes his return from injury in one of six changes to the Western Province starting line-up to face the Griquas in Kimberley on Sunday.
There are five changes in the forward pack and one in the backline and the only change to the backline sees the experienced Juan de Jongh come in at inside centre to partner Ruhan Nel in midfield.
Dayimani is at No.8, with Evan Roos rested and Deon Fourie set to make an impact in the second half from the replacements bench as Nama Xaba comes back into the starting XV at openside flank.
There is an all-new front, with Sazi Sandi and Kwenzo Blose the props and Andre-Hugo Venter at hooker in place of the injured Scarra Ntubeni.
Western Province lost to Griquas at home in the first round so they find themselves in the rare position of travelling to Kimberley as underdogs and this early afternoon game on Sunday should be the match of the weekend.
Pick: Western Province Wins by 0.43 at BetXChange