Another thrilling encounter expected at Newlands
CAPE TOWN - The age-old rivals will square off at Newlands today (kick-off 7pm) in their opening Currie Cup fixture. And while it’s always a big one, this one feels even more so.
For one, it could be the last time these two sides battle it out at the iconic venue (unless they meet in the play-offs in January), and then there’s also the fact that every match is crucial as games could again be called off should teams return positive Covid-19 tests (as was the case during Super Rugby Unlocked, where three of the 21 games were cancelled). So, racking up those log points is vital. Also, the Bulls and Province are first and second on the log respectively. The race is on.
One exciting sub-plot is the quality of players and all the head-to-heads this game will offer.
So, here are four players who could have a big say in how things go down in Cape Town and possibly swing the North-South clash.
Oh, how fantastic the full-back’s move to Cape Town turned out! Gelant has been a magician for John Dobson’s men since he arrived from the Bulls earlier this year, consistently producing fire outings during Super Rugby Unlocked and doing the most to create opportunities for those around him like it’s going out of fashion. He’s been a proper catalyst in the Cape side’s backline – spotting and hitting gaps and exploiting the tightest of spaces. Seeing how he goes against his former team is going to be sweet, to say the least.
Whether it was during the early stages of Super Rugby Unlocked or during the World Cup, I bet Kitshoff has had at least a few people wondering whether it’s possible for him to have an off game. The World Cup-winner has been one of the most consistent performers for John Dobson’s team since the Japan spectacle last year (regardless of how the Stormers performed), producing one big effort after the other and doing it so regularly that we’ve come to expect it. He’s no doubt going to play a huge role this evening.
What really needs to be said here? The Sevens Star has been an absolute menace to opposition sides this year, skinning defences and scoring tries that have been both pleasing and painful to watch (painful if your team is the one being humiliated by this speed merchant). He has been one of the Bulls’ most dangerous players, and watching him play will have you wishing that having at least one Sevens player in all run-on sides was mandatory.
Marco van Staden
If the Bulls wanted to name Van Staden Player of the Season even before the start of the Currie Cup, there wouldn’t be too many who would object to that, I’d imagine.
He’s been massive for the Bulls and his ball-carrying, defence and overall workrate have been ridiculously good. And then there’s been his breakdown brilliance … class.
TEAMS FOR NEWLANDS:
Western Province: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Kwenzo Blose, 19 Neethling Fouche, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Chris van Zyl, 22 Jaco Coetzee, 23 Marcel Theunissen, 24 Godlen Masimla, 25 Tim Swiel, 26 Ruhan Nel.
Blue Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuuren.