Tuesday, August 16, 2022

South Africa

PREVIEW: Who will be crowned unlikeliest of Currie Cup champs?

A new Currie Cup champion will be crowned in Kimberley on Saturday when Griquas host the Pumas in arguably one of the most momentous finals in the history of the competition.

The final kicks off at 15h00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.


The two finalists, who finished third and fourth on the standings following a mad scramble for positions in the last few weeks, both had to travel for their semi-finals, but they underlined their good current form by beating the defending champions, the Bulls, and log leaders, the Cheetahs, in Pretoria and Bloemfontein last weekend.

Griquas not only ended the Bulls’ recent strangle-hold on the competition, but also progressed to their first Currie Cup final since 1970, which was also the last time they lifted the famous gold trophy.

After their semi-final win at Loftus Versfeld, Griquas coach Pieter Bergh said: “For so many years, Griquas have talked about 1970. I have been involved with Griquas as an assistant coach from 2012 to 2018, and every year in that time, we never made a semi-final, with good teams, very good Griquas teams.

“There was always the talk of winning the Carling Currie Cup, and talking about 1970. Then in 2019 they made the semi-finals and in 2021, and they couldn’t take that step. So, I’m incredibly proud of these guys.

“Obviously we can take a lot of confidence. The last time I sat here, I said we need to win three games to get into a semi. We treated it like three playoff matches, and this was our fourth playoff match, so we are used to this knockout rugby.”

The experienced Jimmy Stonehouse, coach of the Pumas, was equally excited about Saturday’s decider.

“It’s amazing that everything worked out for us,” said Stonehouse.

“At one stage, we almost let it slip, but the emotions after that semi-final were amazing, I think we deserve this, and we are feeling very happy. Between Griquas and us (Pumas), there is big rivalry brewing and this is one of the best things that could ever have happened for rugby in SA.

“We are losing 10 players at the end of the season and the Griquas are also losing players. But where are they going? They are going to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship (URC), and you bred them here at the Currie Cup.

“It’s going to be great in Kimberley on Saturday – we owe Griquas one and we are looking forward to the final, it’s going to be an amazing occasion.”

The hosts will probably take some form of confidence into the final, having beaten the team from Mpumalanga twice already this year – by 41-20 in the third round in Kimberley in February, and by 45-44 after a cliffhanger in Nelspruit in round 14 two weekends ago.

And last year, the Pumas won at home (26-22) and drew in the Northern Cape (13-13), while their only encounter in the COVID-affected 2020-season ended in a 22-17 home win for the Lowvelders.


Currie Cup final teams:

Griquas: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Sango Xamlashe (captain), 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Zander du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Siba Qoma, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Cameron Lindsay, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube. Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Andries Schutte, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Fiela Boshoff, 23 Chris Hollis, 24 Gustav du Rand, 25 Luyolo Dapula, 26 Raegan Oranje.

Pumas: 15 15 Devon Williams, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Sebastián de Klerk, 12 Eddie Fouche, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Andre Fouche, 7 Willie Engelbrecht (captain), 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Shane Kirkwood, 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 IG Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Kwanda Dimaza, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Alwayno Visagie.

Match details: Griquas v PumasVenue: Windhoek Draught Park, KimberleyDate: Saturday, 25 June 2022Time: 15h00Referee: Cwengile JadezweniAssistant Referees: Morne Ferreira, Griffin ColbyTMO: Quinton ImmelmanTV: SuperSport

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