Currie Cup

Crunch-time for Currie Cup

2012-09-21 14:55
Currie Cup (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The seventh round of the Currie Cup competition could prove to be the watershed weekend as the two log leaders and the bottom feeders face each other respectively.

The Golden Lions, perched at the top of the table, will take on the Sharks --- with both teams square on 20 points -- in Johannesburg on Saturday.

At the bottom of the standings, the Blue Bulls, in last place, will play the Free State Cheetahs in Pretoria, with only two points separating the two sides.

In the mid-table clash Griquas goes in search of their fourth consecutive victory when they travel to Cape Town to take on Western Province.

These two teams can further cement their positions in the top four with both sides equal on 15 points.

While the Lions boast the scalps of the Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls over the last two weeks, the side’s interim coach, Johan Ackermann, remains wary of the Sharks.

The coastal outfit are fresh off a victory over Western Province in Durban where they had to overcome a waterlogged pitch and off-the-ball incidents.

“We know they (the Sharks) are going to be a tough side. We look a bit further back than Saturday, we look at the last few games,” Ackermann said this week.

“We recognise that they are quite a physical side and quite a balanced side.

“We looked at games where it was dry and we know that they are coming here to set the mark and we have to be ready for that.”

Ackermann’s counterpart, John Plumtree, acknowledged that it would be a challenging prospect for his charges to unseat the pace setting title holders at Ellis Park.

"We know how tough the Lions are going to be," Plumtree said.

"We haven't won up there for a long time now and they've found some really nice form.

"So we're going to have to be at our best and certainly a lot better than the last few times we visited their home ground. It's a really big game for us."

While Griquas have emerged as one of the form teams over recent weeks, they will have to break a 101-year victory drought at Newlands to continue their winning streak in the competition.

Western Province paid a hefty price for their ill-discipline against the Sharks last weekend and will be cautious not to make the same mistake against the Northern Cape side.

Griquas coach Pote Human is well aware that his team could make a further step towards claiming a playoff spot by beating Province in their own backyard.

"If we can beat Province at home, we will be well on our way to a possible Currie Cup semi-final,” Human said.

Both the Cheetahs and Bulls are in a precarious position, in danger of finishing the competition at the bottom of the log.

While a loss for either team could entrench their position in the relegation zone, a victory would keep the winning side within reach of the log leaders.

Bulls coach Pine Pienaar admitted both teams were in the same desperate position, which would up the stakes in their clash at Loftus Versfeld.

“They will come out here backing themselves for a win at Loftus and we are at the bottom of the log,” Pienaar said.

“Desperation will only get you that far and it should be more a focus on what you want to do and how you want to execute on the day.

"That pressure that you want to put on them -- that will count more.”

Read more on:    currie cup  |  rugby

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