Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Cracking clashes in Friday’s Currie Cup action

For Western Province they will be eager to bounce back from their loss against the Cheetahs last weekend.

Two cracking clashes are on the cards on Friday in the Currie Cup as the Griffons welcome Western Province for their match-up in Welkom (kick-off  3pm), while the Pumas host the Sharks in Mbombela (kick-off 5:05pm).

With the competition heading firmly into the business end, all of the teams will be jostling for favourable positions on the log.

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The Pumas and Sharks will be a particularly hard fought encounter as the competition defending champs want to keep the pressure on the table topping Cheetahs and a win will take them back above them on the log.

The Sharks are comfortably in third, but know a loss will open the door for the teams just below them, the Griquas and Western Province, to close the distance and put pressure on them while the gap to the top two will also grow.

The Pumas will be favourites for the match, especially after the Sharks decided to not bring in any of their United Rugby Championship stars after they were knocked out of the competition last weekend, but captain Reniel Hugo still believes they can challenge the hosts.

“In this competition, you have to pitch up every week and do the hard work all over again if you hope to win. It is not just going to happen,” explained Hugo.

“There are guys coming back (from the URC) who have played a lot of rugby and they will be having a break. And the guys who are going to be available can’t just fit in. They have to work hard to make the team better.

 “This is a massive game for us. Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has done great work up in Nelspruit and they have a proud record at home. Even though we beat them in Durban, we will be underdogs again.”

Bounce back

For Western Province they will be eager to bounce back from their loss against the Cheetahs last weekend which saw them pushed out of the top four, and they will be targeting a full house of points against the struggling Griffons.

With this their first season back in the Currie Cup the Griffons have only managed one win so far, but being at home they will hope to push the visitors all the way.

“They are a pro team and they don’t ever go away. They have some young up and comers and journeyman players. They play an interesting style of rugby where they come straight through the middle. So it will be an interesting match,” admitted Western Province coach Labeeb Levy.

“They have some exciting individual players and have a nice balanced team and we will have to be at our best to beat them.”

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