Two matches are on tap this weekend after the clash between Griquas and Bulls was called off due to Covid-19. Hopefully, this is not an ominous sign of things to come and the Currie Cup is able to come to its natural conclusion in a few weeks.
Here is a look at the two remaining matches on tap this weekend:
Pumas vs. Free State Cheetahs
Friday, December 18 – Mbombela Stadium, Mbombela
This match sees the fifth-placed Cheetahs travel to take on the sixth-placed Pumas in a contest that the visiting side really needs to win with a bonus point if they are to stand any chance of making it into the semi-finals. The Cheetahs have 17 competition points and are eight behind the fourth-placed Lions who have 25 points. The Cheetahs do, however, have a game in hand and with the Lions not playing until Sunday and the third-placed Western Province (26 points) off this weekend, they can put some pressure on the teams above them with a five-point Friday night.
Both sides lost last time out – the Pumas going down 28-14 to Western Province and the Cheetahs 39-23 to the Lions – so both have made changes here. The Pumas have three new players in the starting XV with Phumzile Maqondwana, Devon Williams, and Etienne Taljaard replacing Darrien Landsberg, Tiaan Botes, and Ruwellyn Isbell respectively.
The Cheetahs have also made a change at No. 10, with the experience head of Frans Steyn playing the role of pivot for the first time in South Africa since his days with the Sharks. Other new inclusions in the starting XV include Marnus van der Merwe at hooker, Reniel Hugo at lock, and American international Ruben de Haas at scrum-half.
It is a bonus-point win or nothing for the Cheetahs here so expect them to be attacking with extra intent. I like them at -9.5 points at 0.90 with BetXChange.
Golden Lions vs. Sharks
Saturday, December 19 – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
The only match remaining on Saturday is a big one as the second-placed Sharks travel from Durban to Johannesburg to take on the fourth-placed Lions. Both are currently in semi-final spots, but the Lions will be looking over their shoulders at the Cheetahs and cannot afford to slip up here. The Sharks are looking to keep building momentum as perhaps the best challenger to the Bulls after beating thing last weekend, especially with the game against Griquas being awarded as two-points to each side.
The Sharks are eight points behind the Bulls with two games in hand and suddenly have a pathway to the top of the log. The Lions were at their best last weekend and their side seems settled. There are a couple of injury question marks, however, with prop Sti Sithole and back-rower Vincent Tshituka both needing late fitness tests to confirm their availability.
These are both undefeated teams in this version of the competition so expect it to be close. I actually fancy the Sharks in an upset as the traveling team here, but if you aren’t fully confident then taking them at 0.80 with BetXChange +2.5 points is a good option.