Super Rugby Unlocked is done and dusted and the teams are now into Round 2 of a Currie Cup that features the reserves fixtures from the recently concluded tournament.
Here is a look at the three games:
Pumas vs Griquas
Friday, December 4 – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
This is a game that Griquas have found to their liking in recent years. They have won five of the last seven matches between the two sides, with two of the victories for the team from the Northern Cape coming away from home in Nelspruit. There is an incentive here for both sides given the strength of the other five teams in the Currie Cup this season, with the loser likely to finish with the wooden spoon having come bottom of the log when all is said and done.
Griquas make just one change to their side and it is an enforced one after forward Gideon van der Merwe had to be replaced against the Lions last time out. He will be replaced by CJ Velleman. Pumas – on the other hand – have changed a third of their starting XV, with coach Jimmy Stonehouse making five alterations and a couple of positional switches. The changes are mainly in the pack, with Luther Obi replacing Morne Joubert on the wing in the only backline change.
Bulls vs. Cheetahs
Saturday, December 5 – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
This will be an interesting clash as the only side to beat the Bulls in the Super Rugby Unlocked phase of this competition now travels to Loftus Versfeld looking to complete a unique double. The Bulls will be up for this one to get some revenge and Jake White has made a number of changes to his side from last weekend.
The backline has been completely rejigged, with Kurt-Lee Arendse and David Kriel making switches to fullback and wing respectively. They are joined in the back three by starting debutant Marco Jansen van Vuren. It is a new halfback pairing for this season too, with Morne Steyn at pivot and Embrose Papier playing at No. 9.
This is the CHeetahs first Currie Cup game after having a bye in Round 1. They are playing catch up – 10 points behind the Bulls at kickoff – and while I don’t expect them to win, I also don’t expect them to be blown out. Take the Cheetahs +10 at 1.00 with BetXChange.
Lions vs. Western Province
Saturday, December 5 – Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
The Lions took down Griquas 20-17 last weekend and coach Ivan van Rooyen has made a couple of changes to his starting XV after that clash. Tiaan Swanepoel replaces EW Viljoen at fullback after the latter went down with a hamstring tear that will see him miss four to six weeks. The other change is also in the backline, but it is a rotational one that sees Springbok Ross Cronje back in the mix ahead of Morne van den Berg.
Western Province has also had to make an injury-enforced change at fullback for this match. Warrick Gelant suffered an ACL tear last weekend and he will be sidelined for months, including missing the British Lions tour in 2021. He will be replaced by Damian Willemse in the No. 15 shirt, with Tim Swiel starting at fly-half as part of a new combination behind the scrum with No. 9 Godlen Masimla.
If there is an upset on the cards this weekend then it is here. At 1.20 – and at home – the Lions are good value for a play.