The 2023 Currie Cup gets underway this weekend, with the Pumas looking to defend their trophy from 2022. They will have to go against an extra team this season, with the Griffons returning to the Premier Division for the first time since 1999.
Here is a look at those games with odds from BetXchange.
Griquas VS Cheetahs – Griqua Park, Kimberley
Last year’s runners-up, Griquas, will look to go one better in 2023. They start off with a match against the Cheetahs that has a spread of just 0.5 points, suggesting there is little to nothing to pick between the two sides.
The Central South African derby is always a tough contest, with the two sides being much closer in ability in the last few years. Griquas are always a tough out in Kimberley – they defend the patch as well as any team protects its own park in the comp – and that home pitch advantage will be huge here.
The Cheetahs will be able to throw the likes of Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar Griquas, but the hosts have a team ethic that always comes across as more than the sum of its individual parts. To that end – and because their confidence will be sky-high after 2022 – I like Griwuas to sneak a win here by less than a try.
Golden Lions VS Western Province – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
The late afternoon matchup on Saturday is another that the bookies are finding difficult to handicap. The Golden Lions will be looking to defend their home turf against Western Province, with the spread being set at just 0.5 points.
The big question in this one is what do the Lions do after a 2022 that was among the most disappointing seasons in recent history. The Highvelders were dead last in the standings at the end of the season and Mziwakhe Nkosi knows that wins early in the season are a must to get this squad thinking it can compete at the top end of the Premier Division.
I don’t think they will have enough here and like Western Province to sneak a win away from home.
Blue Bulls VS Pumas – Loftus Versfled, Pretoria
The last match of the round features the last three champions. The Pumas – long odds to win the Currie Cup at the start of last season – surprised the entire completion with their 2022 win. That took the trophy out of the hands of the Bull Bulls, the team that had won the Currie Cup in 2020 and 2021.
The Bulls will obviously be weakened by their URC campaign and the top-end stars they will be missing, but their strength will again be in their pack and the cohesiveness of their play. They use this comp to develop future generations of stars, and – as a result – I like them to win and cover against the defining champs in an early show of intent.