Preview: Currie Cup Round 8

Preview: Currie Cup Round 8

The defending Currie Cup Premier Division champions, the Pumas, are leading the race as the competition enters the second half of the league phase this weekend, while the First Division and Mzansi Challenge continues with matches in Port Alfred, Bredasdorp, Strand and George.

The Premier Division’s two front-runners – the Airlink Pumas and Toyota Cheetahs – will be looking to increase the gap between themselves and the chasing pack this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Sharks, Griquas, Bulls, Western Province and Lions will all be scrapping for log points with the aim of finishing the eighth round in the top four. As things stand, only five points separate the teams ranked third and seventh on the Premier Division table.

The defending champions extended their lead at the top of the standings when they edged DHL Western Province in Nelspruit last week, and may be favourites to topple the Lions when they travel to Johannesburg on Friday. The Airlink Pumas won the previous match-up 34-27 in Mpumalanga.

The Lions have lost their last three matches, and will be desperate to bounce back. The injection of several star players – who are no longer required for Vodacom United Rugby Championship duty – should boost their cause.

The Cheetahs went down to the Sharks in Bloemfontein last week, and may have a point to prove when they host the NovaVit Griffons in the Free State Derby this Friday.

A win against the bottom-placed side will ensure that Hawies Fourie’s charges stay in touch with the Airlink Pumas at the top of the standings. The game will mark Springbok flanker Oupa Mohoje’s 100th appearance for the team.

The Toyota Cheetahs romped to a 52-12 win over the Northern Free State outfit earlier in the tournament. However, the Purple People Eaters have progressed since then, and claimed a four-try bonus point in their recent defeat to Windhoek Draught Griquas.

The Cell C Sharks will be buzzing after securing a valuable win in Bloemfontein last week. They should take nothing for granted this Saturday, though, when they host Windhoek Draught Griquas in Durban.

The men from Kimberley won the previous encounter between the teams (48-40) and have since claimed notable wins against DHL WP and the Fidelity ADT Lions. Both sides have accumulated 19 log points to date, and the winner of the upcoming clash will strengthen their bid for a playoff place.

The traditional North-South Derby in Cape Town this Saturday has been billed as an appetiser to next week’s Vodacom URC quarter-final between the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls at the same venue. That said, the coming match will be massively important in the context of the Currie Cup Premier Division.

DHL WP were in a position to win their previous two fixtures against the Toyota Cheetahs and Airlink Pumas. Poor game management and discipline in the dying stages, however, cost them dearly. They won’t want for motivation when they meet their arch-rivals this Saturday.

By contrast, the Vodacom Bulls have enjoyed a great run of form over the past few weeks, winning three matches on the bounce. Another victory this weekend will catapult the Pretoria-based side into the top four on the Premier Division log.

Currie Cup Premier Division match information:

Fidelity Lions v Airlink Pumas
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Date: Friday, 28 April
Time: 17h00
Referee: AJ Jacobs
TV: SuperSport

Toyota Cheetahs v NovaVit Griffons
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Date: Friday, 28 April
Time: 19h05
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
TV: SuperSport

Cell C Sharks v Windhoek Draught Griquas
Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Date: Saturday, 29 April
Time: 13h30
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
TV: SuperSport

DHL Western Province v Vodacom Bulls
Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Date: Saturday, 29 April
Time: 18h30
Referee: Morné Ferreira
TV: SuperSport

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