Let me just say at this point that if you are still avidly watching the Currie Cup at this stage of this particular year, you have my respect. What with about 12 or 15 World Cup matches screened per week, along with the usual collection of Aviva Premiership games from the UK, Top 14 from France and enough RWC magazine shows to make sure that even the opinions of Afrikaans singers and heavily made-up winners of Supersport lady commentator competitions are ours to pick from, something’s got to give right? So if you are feeling a bit of couch-fatigue and you’re shirking a bit on your Currie Cup commitment, it’s ok – no hard feelings…
I must be honest, I’m struggling a bit myself – I’m usually only good for about 6 or 7 games a week – but I refuse to let go of the Kerrie Beker, particularly now that we’re so close to the business end of the competition. So for the sake of my marriage and my job then I’ve decided that I’ll pick up on the fortunes of Saracens and co in November again, and mostly avoid those 3am kick-off times in games involving powerhouses like Georgia, Russia and Scotland in favour of sparing myself for the Currie Cup games. I highly suggest you do the same if you’re also struggling with the glut of rugby being aired at the moment: the Bulls-Province match-up this weekend tops anything that Argentina and Romania might have to offer…
LEPPIDS vs LIONS (Profert Olen Park, Potch. Friday 7.10pm)
Although the Lions are making all the right noises about travelling down the N12 to take on the piss-poor Leopards – you know, all the usual “it’s-going-to-be-a-tough-game-and-we can’t-afford-to-slip”-stuff – but let’s be honest here and call an arse-kicking an arse-kicking. (more…)
Since Western Province are lining up the Leopards at Newlands this week I thought I’d go scratching through the highlights of the corresponding fixture between these 2 teams in the first round of the Currie Cup Premier Division in the hope of finding something redeeming to say about the Leppids in my weekly Currie Cup review. And I found this gem:
In what is probably their best passage of play in the whole match, watch in slomo horror as Leppids number 8 Morné Hanekom pins WP flanker Siya Kolisi with a casual lob of the rugby ball for an eye-watering bull’s-eye.
Even better is the quality work from commentator Andy Capastagno right at the end of the video, who nails this one on the, erm, head with his memorable “land owner” quip. If he wasn’t such a biased Sharks supporter I might actually start liking him.
Having managed to pick 4 out of 4 last week – and what else would you expect from us here at sportblog.co.za? – there’s a strong possibility of me extending the streak to 8 out of 8 come Sunday morning if this weekend’s match-ups are anything to go by. Effectively, the bottom half of the log travels away from home to take on the top half in Saturday’s games, and as a result the current top 4 are presented a chance to further secure their semi-final claims by putting a buffer between themselves and the other 4 teams in the Currie Cup Premier Division.
The only team reasonably capable of an upset this week is probably the hapless Bulls, who find themselves up against the Cheetahs in Bloem, but given their current form I’m not so sure. If the Bulls fail to collect even a bonus point from the Cheetahs this week I would imagine that the last sniff of a chance to contest a semi-final would be gone as well, cueing much soul-searching and introspection from the Bulls camp for the rest of the year, and much wailing, gnashing of teeth and random acts of public violence from their supporters in the streets of Pretoria. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many kids who were deliriously named “Victor” or “Bakkies” two years ago suddenly find themselves the subject of a flood of name-change applications at the Home Affairs offices come Monday morning.
The Kerrie Beker keeps rolling on in the midst of all the World Cup hype (only 6 days 23 hours 42 minutes and 10 seconds to go, kids!) and this week sees the start of the 2nd half of the competition commence as the Premier Division teams start facing each other again for their return fixtures. With half of the round robin phase of the competition already accounted for, the mad scramble to end in the top 6 on the log begins in earnest as the spectre of possible relegation looms ever larger in the wake of a more streamlined strength versus strength Premier Division format coming in 2012.
At least two teams currently playing in the Premier Division have got to go, and there’s a distinct possibility that a third might find themselves in a promotion-relegation game against the winners of the First Division – that decision still pending from the administrators of first class rugby in South Africa. With this in mind, all the Currie Cup teams will be wanting to finish in at least 5th spot on the log to avoid any relegation issues. In order to do that, away wins and bonus points suddenly become gold, and any away game against a minnow should be targeted by the bigger unions as an opportunity to help secure a top 5 finish. (Sorry for you, Leppids…)
PUMAS vs LIONS (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit. Friday 7.10pm)
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…)