Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
19 Oct 2018
6:15 pm

Five cracking duels in the Currie Cup semis

Heinz Schenk

Even if it's considered a weaker product nowadays, the domestic competition's playoffs will have a sizeable number of Springboks on show.

S'bu Nkosi of Cell C Sharks during the Currie Cup match between Tafel Lager Griquas and Cell C Sharks at Tafel Lager Park on October 13, 2018 in Kimberley, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

It’s Currie Cup semifinal weekend and, to be honest, the best teams in this year’s campaign will be involved.

With several Springboks back on duty, Kings Park and Newlands will both host some mouthwatering individual battles.

TREVOR NYAKANE (Blue Bulls) vs WILCO LOUW (Western Province)

Nyakane this week bemoaned how him and his teammates simply failed to turn up last weekend at Loftus, leading to an almighty pasting from the log-leaders … in just 40 weather-curtailed minutes.

With the scrums being one area of massive concern for the men from Loftus, coach Pote Human has shifted the 29-year-old Nyakane back to loosehead in an attempt to shore up that set-piece.

At his best, the versatile Bok prop is one of the best scrummers in the business.

Ironically, his direct opponent is a man that played a massive role in their dismantling last week – Wilco Louw.

Nyakane will have an ideal opportunity to showcase his ability against a top-class opponent, especially since the two might be competing for a Bok place.

DAN DU PREEZ (Sharks) vs WARREN WHITELEY (Golden Lions)

A battle of brains against brawn?

It’s a tempting thought given the sheer size and reputation of the Du Preez twins as bruising ball-carriers, in contrast to the Lions stalwart’s considerable finesse.

However, the young Sharks star is arguably more rounded than some are willing to concede.

He plays in a position that requires organisational abilities and frequently pops up in support play.

In some sense, this is a duel between the “new” and “older” generation.

But don’t expect Whiteley to shrivel up in the physical stakes.

His exploits in the Rugby Championship showed he’s more than willing to put his body on the line.

RUHAN NEL (Western Province) vs DYLAN SAGE (Blue Bulls)

A few months back, these two men were crucial cogs in the well-oiled Blitzboks machine.

Now, the pair find themselves on opposite sides and striving for glory in the 15-man game.

Both men have similar virtues as outside centres, intelligent exponents who constantly look for space, but also place a premium on pulling their weight on defence.

Nel is far more settled in his role than Sage, who’s been thrown in at the deep end, yet a one-off game of this nature is invariably an equaliser.

S’BU NKOSI (Sharks) vs APHIWE DYANTYI (Golden Lions)

In June, these two men formed an exciting combination on the wing for the Springboks against England.

However, then Nkosi broke a foot to curtail his season to some extent while Dyantyi went one to become one of the most exciting rookies on the international circuit.

The interesting thing about this match-up is how Dyantyi could (again) showcase his versatility.

At the beginning of the year, Nkosi’s all-round game was touted more highly than his counterpart before the grittiness of Test rugby brought out the Lions star’s less fashionable qualities – like work rate and defence.

This should be fun.

ROBERT DU PREEZ (Sharks) vs ELTON JANTJIES (Golden Lions)

Flyhalf tends to be a position that’s over-romanticised and even over-emphasised, but one can’t escape the fact that a good duel between the No 10’s is a great sight.

Du Preez has always been a solid performer, particularly at this level, and his kicking game is an undoubted strength when things become tighter.

But he’s facing a man with oodles of experience and proven class, particularly at this level.

It’s unlikely that Du Preez will displace Jantjies’ as the Boks’ official deputy No 10 though he can certainly stake a claim for a spot on the year-end tour to Europe … especially since he’s looked promising at inside centre too.

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