The Easter Weekend will serve up a sweet dose of Currie Cup Premier Division action as the four fifth-round matches are spread over three days, from Friday to Sunday, involving all eight provincial teams, while the Mzansi Challenge continues with matches in George and Windhoek.
First up in the Premier Division will be the Vodacom Bulls, who will be desperate to get a first campaign win under their belt when the host Windhoek Draught Griquas on Friday afternoon from 17h00 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The team from the Jacaranda City have faltered in all four of their games to date, including last week to the NovaVit Griffons in Welkom, and as a result they have made some changes to their coaching set-up, with Director of Rugby Jake White taking the reins.
Later on Friday, the Cell C Sharks welcome holders and current league leaders, the Airlink Pumas, to Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban, hoping to bounce back from their 34-22 loss to the Fidelity ADT Lions last week in Johannesburg.
There is only one fixture taking place on Saturday, when DHL Western Province face the NovaVit Griffons at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town, with kick-off scheduled for 20h30 so that the match doesn’t clash with the DHL Stormers’ quarter-final in the Heineken Champions Cup in England.
The Sunday afternoon meeting between Fidelity ADT Lions and Toyota Cheetahs should make for a cracking affair when these two sides lock horns from 15h00 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
In the first match over the Easter weekend, the struggling Vodacom Bulls host a Windhoek Draught Griquas team who scored 32 unanswered points against DHL WP in Cape Town last weekend.
The struggling Pretoria outfit will also be mindful of the fact that when their Kimberley opponents last ran out at Loftus Versfeld, in the 2022 semi-final, the visitors from the Northern Cape won by 30-19. The blue jerseys do however have the slight edge over their last five games by virtue of three wins.
In Durban, the Cell C Sharks host the high-flying defending champions, the Airlink Pumas, in what promises to be another exciting affair on the east coast. The KwaZulu-Natalians went down right at the end in the previous round in Johannesburg.
The Cell C Sharks will have to counter the Mpumalanga side’s fast-paced, quick-handling game which has seen them score an average of almost 50 points per game in their four wins so far. The honours are even between these two sides over their last four meetings, with two wins apiece. Their last clash, in May last year in Durban, went 20-10 in favour of the hosts.
On Saturday, DHL WP will be very wary of the NovaVit Griffons’ liking for scoring points early in the first half. The purple jerseys have done it in all four games so far, including last week’s memorable win in Welkom over the Vodacom Bulls.
Meanwhile, DHL WP are still hurting from conceding 32 points with no reply at home against Windhoek Draught Griquas last weekend, while the side from Welkom will be full of confidence as a result of their victory over the Currie Cup champions of 2020 and 2021.
The weekend’s action will conclude on Sunday, when the Fidelity ADT Lions and the Toyota Cheetahs clash in Johannesburg. The Highvelders hold the advantage in their last five games with three wins, a loss and an incredible 44-44 draw. The Free Staters will be hoping for a much better performance than last week’s 61-21 loss to the Airlink Pumas in Bloemfontein.
Currie Cup First Division / Mzansi Challenge
In Currie Cup First Division and Mzansi Challenge action on Saturday, the San Clemente Rhinos will kick off their South African odyssey at 15h30 in George when they take on the SWD Eagles, who will be confident after their good victory last weekend in Windhoek, while the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will be aiming to atone for their home loss last weekend when they entertain Valke in the Namibian capital from 16h00.
The match between the Leopards and Simbas has been postponed, with the Kenyan side remaining committed to reschedule the encounter (as well as last weekend’s) as soon as their situation allows.
Currie Cup Premier Division match information:
Vodacom Bulls vs Windhoek Draught Griquas
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Friday, 7 April
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Cell C Sharks vs Airlink Pumas
Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Date: Friday, 7 April
Referee: Paul Mente
DHL Western Province vs NovaVit Griffons
Venue: DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Date: Saturday, 8 April
Referee: Dylan November
Fidelity ADT Lions vs Toyota Cheetahs
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Date: Sunday, 9 April
Referee: Stefan Geldenhuys