Currie Cup Predictions – Round 7

All eyes will be on Bloemfontein when the log-leading Cheetahs collide with the Sharks in the pick of Wednesday’s Currie Cup clashes, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Two teams who are equally desperate to get back on track will kick things off as Western Province plays host to the Pumas in Cape Town.

Then it’s the big battle in Bloemfontein, where the wounded Sharks will seek to do to the Cheetahs what the Bulls did to them and end their undefeated run.

Wrapping up the midweek action is the Jukskei Derby in Johannesburg, where the winless Lions will be up against it against the defending champions.

Western Province v Pumas

Wednesday, 23 March – 15:00

This is a crucial game for both teams, who share a record of 1-4 and sit fifth and sixth on the log, with Western Province having the better points difference.

His charges may have bent the knee (24-17) in Bloemfontein last week, but there was a lot to like for Jerome Paarwater. The result didn’t go their way, but it was nevertheless a return to form.

Their attitude, discipline, and structure were vastly improved, and keeping the high-flying Cheetahs scoreless in the first half was a major feather in the Capetonians’ cap.

Indiscipline has been at the heart of the Pumas’ problems while they also lacked the spark on the attack in their last two losses to Griquas (41-20) and the Sharks (24-10) that saw them race to a record 50-7 rout at Ellis Park in Round Two.

The performance against the Cheetahs, particularly on defence, points to Western Province claiming a vital and fairly convincing win.

Prediction: Western Province by 12.

Cheetahs v Sharks

Wednesday, 23 March – 17:45

As much as their supreme balance should be credited for the men from Bloemfontein’s unbeaten march to the top of the log, one shouldn’t overlook the driving force that’s set them apart from the rest.

It’s their mindset, the pursuit of perfection that powers them and ensures they approach every fixture like a final. This time, though, it might actually be a preview of the final.

The adversity they had to overcome against Western Province last week was the best possible preparation for this crunch clash, which is set to be their staunchest test despite the Durbanites suffering their first loss at Loftus Versfeld last week.

They did well to adapt to losing flyhalf Tito Bonilla just before kick-off, a blow multiplied tenfold by the wet conditions, and to stay in the game despite being down to 13 men at one stage against a Bulls team filled with United Rugby Championship stars.

The Sharks be better for that experience, particularly because they’ll be welcomed by rain and possible thunderstorms again. They’ll put up a fierce fight but areas of weakness like the lineout should see them come up short against the well-oiled Cheetahs.

Prediction: Cheetahs by 6.

Lions v Bulls

Wednesday, 23 March – 20:00

A classic Jukskei Derby this will not be. The big injection of experienced players into the young Lions side succeeded in giving them fresh energy and improved physicality but the bottom line is they still shipped almost 50 points and endured another thumping (49-17) in Kimberley last week.

The Bulls, in contrast, snapped the Sharks’ unbeaten streak and bagged a full five points in their 35-21 win to move into second place. The winless Lions simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball against Griquas and the Bulls’ embarrassment of back-row riches will make it that much more difficult for the men from Johannesburg to gain possession and territory and will see them get hammered at home.

Prediction: Bulls by 26.

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Author: editor

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