There are just four rounds of the Currie Cup left including the one this weekend. That means that the five teams fighting for the four sports in the finals all need to keep winning to get to play in the playoffs. The top two seem set in some order as the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs have created a gap to the Sharks who sit third on the log. Any two of the Sharks, Griquas, and Pumas could join them in the finals.
Here is a look at a couple of the matches on tap this weekend with BetXchange.
Pumas VS Western Province – Mombela Stadium, Mbombela
Pumas are in need of a win here. They sit on 19 points, two behind fourth-placed Griquas and five behind the Sharks. They have only played eight games to nine by the other two sides and with Griquas not playing this weekend there is a chance for them to jump into a finals spot by beating a Western Province side that is a long way off of the pace in sixth with nine points on the season.
Pumas had a massive win against Sharks in Durban last time out as they ground their way to a 20-10 victory. Western Province has made four changes to their pack from their last match two weeks ago. These changes include an entirely new front row and a change at lock. It has been a disappointing season, but picking up their second win with three more matches to play could springboard WP into a better year in 2023.
There is just no reason to pick WP in an upset here. The line is 8.5 and I like Pumas to cover at home and move into a finals spot.
Free State Cheetahs VS Sharks – Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Cheetahs won 35-26 last weekend against the Lions in Johannesburg and they return home to face a Sharks side reeling after that bad defeat at the hands of Pumas last time out. Cheetahs have been outstanding in 2022 and remain unbeaten with eight wins from eight games. They are poised to jump to the top of the log as soon as the Blue Bulls hit their bye week. The Sharks are clinging on to their finals place as a bonus-point win for Pumas this weekend combined with a defeat here would see them suddenly in joint third and three points ahead of Griquas.
Cheetahs will play a little differently here if couch Hawies Fourie is to be believed. The team has been winning games from behind, starting slowly on the back foot before coming good late in games. This is not a sustainable strategy – especially in finals rugby – as eventually Cheetahs will face an opponent too strong to let them back into the game. Expect to see a more focused side here against the Sharks as they build up a lead and comfortably cover the -13.5 they are being given at BetXchange against a young Sharks squad.