It’s been such a golden run with these Currie Cup previews and picks for the last 3 weeks or so, that I’m almost too scared to pick a winner in some of these games this week, most notably the Saturday games, which I think are going to be close run affairs. I’d just really hate to screw up a good run – 100% in 11 games I think I’m on now, which makes sportblog.co.za at least as accurate as the best bookies out there – but unfortunately my editor doesn’t pay me peanuts to sit my fat ass on the fence; he’s looking for some ballsy commitment from me.
Here we go then…
PUMAS vs WESTERN PROVINCE (Friday, 7pm. Puma Stadium, Witbank)
WP front up this weekend to a Pumas team that haven’t won a game yet this year in the Kerrie Beker and in fact seem to be on a downward spiral after last week’s Prison Sex outing against the Cheetahs, who caned them by a 64-point margin away from home.On the other hand, WP are keeping it together nicely, marshalled well by rookie flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, and shouldn’t break too much of a sweat to breach a Pumas defence that is leakier than anacid-washed condom.
Province by 10.
The Currie Cup launches into week 6 (already!) with this weekend’s round of games, and it looks as if the cream is starting to rise to the top, so to speak. Unless you’re a Bulls fan, of course.
BULLS vs GRIQUAS (Loftus, Pretoria. Friday 5pm)
The Bulls will be mildly buoyed by the fact that they have managed to stumble their way off the bottom of the log with last week’s win like a zombie desperate for a feed, but also very wary of a Griquas outfit that continues to punch above its weight. (I always think they’re punching above their weight, which is a bit disingenuous – after a couple of seasons of punching above their weight this probably is their weight…)
Hmmm… a prediction is required of this column, and after a 100% sheet last week I’m desperate to maintain my form, but this isn’t an easy pick as with a couple of the other games this week. I still rate the Bulls ability to win ugly when they’re desperate, and combined with the fact that they’re playing at Loftus in front of their rabid bovine fans, I’ll back them.
Bulls by 6.
WESTERN PROVINCE vs LIONS (Newlands, Cape Town, Friday 7pm)
WP are on the back of 2 consecutive losses and will be looking to reverse that trend against a Lions team that has emerged over the past month or so as a serious contender in this year’s Currie Cup in my match of the weekend. (more…)
It is crystal clear that “the powers that be” (read Super Sport and SARU) understand all too well the fanaticism and obsession associated with rugby and how some folks gladly schedule their lives and salaries around it. And inevitably this becomes the fire that fuels the constant search for further innovative ways to gain more out of the public and the players, with little or no regard for the consequences to either. The spectators and viewers might not feel too hard done by presently, but would they be as forgiving should the franchise they support suddenly find itself demoted to a less prestigious competition? Could SARU expect the same support for their new Currie Cup venture from the Bulls should they continue their dreadful run of form and slip into relegation-waters? To put it mildly, it will be cold day in hell!
So that begs the question, could this new format work or will it be amended to suit the needs of the more financially affluent unions? Add to this dilemma, the political pressure to create an opportunity for Cheeky Watson and his EP Kings in the amended Currie Cup and you could have a true melting pot, with genuine riots on hand. (more…)
Fine, fine – I’ll admit it: last week’s Currie Cup picks were basically all wrong meaning either a) it was a weekend of upsets, or b) my picks are rubbish.
I’m going to go with option a) for now, although now that we’re a month into the Kerrie Beker I’m prepared to finally look at the log as some indicator of form. Oh my sweet Jesus, friends and neighbours, are the Bulls really at the bottom?? Below the Leppids?? And the Lions clear on top by 4 points?? What the hell is going on here?
I know the Bulls have a habit of starting most competitions slowly, but they might be pushing their luck a bit here. Keep in mind that they won’t have the luxury of beefing up their starting XV with a collection of returning Springboks as they usually do every year, normally just in time to become a serious headache for any other team in the Currie Cup with playoff aspirations. Also keep in mind that with the new Currie Cup format approved for next year involving only 6 teams in the Premier Division, 2 of the current teams in this year’s competition are going to be dropping down to the First Division. How that decision will be made must still be made clear by the powers-that-be at SARU as I write this, but I would imagine that it should be determined by final log standings come the end of the round robin phase of the Currie Cup on the 15th of October – and currently the Bulls are in that particular hot seat.
Man, I couldn’t have been further off with my predictions last week if I had made them under the influence of a cheap hallucinogenic… My humblest apologies to the Pumas and the Griquas who produced an absolute snorter on Friday night that was nothing like the “vanilla lite –flavoured game I predicted, as well as the Leopards who in the end didn’t take the rocket I expected them to from the Lions, although that result might realistically tell you more about the Lions’ up and down season so far than about the Leopards’ ongoing battle not to get the wooden spoon when all is said and done come the end of the tournament on the 29th of October later this year.
This week’s match ups are not an easy pick at all – if my blog editor had bothered to do his research and checked my success rate on Superbru over the past 2 years he would’ve never given me this gig in the first place – but I’ll do my best. (Just give me a few minutes to go hang my Currie Cup result picking dartboard in the garage, and I’ll be right back with this week’s predictions…)
To my mind, the first 2 weeks of this year’s Kerrie Beker has been about seeing what type of threat the minnow teams pose to the so-called Big 5 (my conclusion at this early stage is: not much). This week sees a change in perspective a bit as 4 of the traditional contenders come the playoffs square off against each other, and provide us with a decent idea of how each of the big unions are dealing with life stripped of the 40-odd Springboks who are either playing overseas in the B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team, or are secretively doing push-ups in Rustenburg at the-training-camp-that’s-not-a-training-camp.
PUMAS vs GRIQUAS (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit. Friday 19h00)
Reckon this is going to be a close one, with the Pumas (!) scraping in for the honours in an evenly matched contest. Hardly the most exciting game of the round, I reckon if this match was an ice cream flavour it would be vanilla lite: reliable, predictable and not drawing too much in the way of emotion from the viewer. I’ve got no intention of cancelling my plans for tonight to tune in to this one.
Pumas by 5 in a forward-dominated affair.
SHARKS vs CHEETAHS (King’s Park, Durban. Saturday 15h00)
This is more like it! Toss-up between this game and the Newlands clash for the banner game of the weekend, this could produce some decent running rugby punctuated with slick phase-play from 2 teams more capable of that mythical beast “Total Rugby” than any other in the Currie Cup this year. The Sharks have maintained the upper hand over the Cheetahs in their 2 clashes so far this year in Super Rugby, and should continue the trend.
After a first week of Kerrie Beker action that produced only half a surprise really – Province stumbling to a draw against Griquas at Newlands – this week should hopefully provide us with a couple of matches that are less easy to predict, especially since the minnow teams are all playing at their home grounds, and are less likely as a result to take a molesting from the big boys.
LEOPARDS vs WESTERN PROVINCE (Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom; Friday 7pm)
Coming to Potch to play the Leopards at a stadium that sounds like it should be the name for some turn-of-the-century disease usually contracted by sailors suffering from a shortage of fresh vegetables, and in front of a parochial local crowd should prove a challenge for a young and inexperienced Province side, but one that they should possess enough talent to emerge from on the right side of the result. Keep an eye on newbie flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, from whom big things are expected in the future. His ability to unleash a speedy backline will be interesting to watch.
My pick: Province show a bit more promise than last week by squeezing out the Leppids by 7 to 10 points.
PUMAS vs SHARKS (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit; Friday 7pm)
As with the Leopards-Province encounter, home ground advantage should shorten the odds a bit for the underdogs, but ultimately I should think that if the Sharks are able to build on their form from last week against the Bulls, particularly if Freddie Michalak is allowed to influence the game as he did against the Bulls, they should come out on top.