Currie Cup - Round 11 Preview
Province and Cheetahs set sights on Sharks
September 17, 2009
Frikkie Welsh starred for Western Province in defeat last weekend and will be hoping to inspire a change in fortunes © Getty Images
Table-topping Natal Sharks will be looking to consolidate their lead when they entertain a Free State Cheetahs side only able to call upon half of their victorious Springbok quota at Kings Park, Durban on Saturday.
The back injury which ruled flank Juan Smith out of the Tri-Nations-clinching 32-29 win over the All Blacks last Saturday also keeps him off the field this week.
There is some good news on the injury front, however, with loose forwards Kabamba Floors and Hendro Scholtz both fully fit and ready to play. And the in-form Heinrich Brussow will again take to the field despite having featured in all of the Springboks Tri-Nations games.
Sharks boss John Plumtree also has selection dilemmas with JP Pietersen still out with a hamstring injury and Johann Muller (discomfort in his arm) and Beast Mtawarira (Achilles) also doubtful.
In Friday's clash, Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has resisted the temptation of making unforced changes to the side to play the Leopards in Potchefstroom.
Schalk Burger misses the game and next week's home game against the Griquas after bruising his ribs against the All Blacks.
Springbok lock Andries Bekker, who is recovering from a shoulder injury incurred in the Tri-Nations, will also miss Friday's trip to Potchefstroom. Fellow international Ricky Januarie has been surprisingly overlooked despite having minimal playing time during the Tri-Nations.
The one enforced change because of Chris Jack's departure sees lock De Kock Steenkamp enjoy a rare outing and Hilton Lobberts will provide cover on the bench. Coetzee also decided against experimenting with reserve scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann at fly-half.
Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has selected Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Wynand Olivier in his starting XV for Saturday's clash against the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington.
Ralepelle starts at hooker with Derick Kuün moving to the bench and flamboyant No.8 Dewald Potgieter captains the team. Potgieter is going to play in a loose trio with Jacques Burger and Deon Stegmann and in the midfield Olivier partners Francois Hougaard.
Hougaard is a scrumhalf who has played a couple of matches on the wing but because of Jaco Pretorius's knee injury and Stephan Dippenaar's broken hand the youngster will start at outside centre.
With only one win from ten, the lowly Cavaliers seemingly have only pride to play for but can draw positives from a spirited 23-31 loss to the high-flying Griquas in round 10.
The Griquas will be looking to build on their impressive 31-21 away victory against the Boland Cavaliers when they face the Golden Lions at Kimberly on Saturday.
Should results go their way, the Griquas could climb from third to the top of the Currie Cup table. A win for the Lions could see them leap-frog the Blue Bulls to fifth in the table.