The 2022 Carling Currie Cup Bulletin #9

Defending Carling Currie Cup champions, the Vodacom Bulls, will be hoping to improve their position on the standings from third when they host the second-placed Cell C Sharks in a replay of the last two finals in Pretoria on Wednesday evening as the teams resume action in South Africa’s premier domestic rugby competition.

The match at Loftus Versfeld is scheduled to start at 20h00, and will be preceded by two other clashes on a full day of midweek action.

First up, Tafel Lager Griquas host the Sigma Lions in Kimberley (15h30), after which the high-flying Toyota Cheetahs’ home fixture in Bloemfontein against DHL Western Province (17h45). The Airlink Pumas have a bye in this round of fixtures, all of which will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Only three points separate the top three sides on the league table at the moment – the Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks both have 18 points from their four wins, while the team from Pretoria has 15 points.

In the previous round of matches played two weeks ago, the Vodacom Bulls flexed their muscles to win a tricky fixture in Kimberley against Tafel Lager Griquas (53-27), while the Cell C Sharks did enough to overcome the nuggety Airlink Pumas in Nelspruit (24-20).

The Toyota Cheetahs, meanwhile, produced a splendid performance to down the Sigma Lions 66-14 to surge to the top of the table and to keep their winning streak intact.

Wednesday evening’s match in Pretoria between the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks is a repeat of the 2021 Carling Currie Cup Final, which was also played at Loftus Versfeld, where the men from Pretoria comfortably won to retain the famous trophy they also won at home in 2020.

The Vodacom Bulls have lost only one of their previous four matches to date, a 38-25 reverse to the table-topping Free Staters at the beginning of February. While both teams have very good squad depth, the men from Pretoria might fancy themselves as favourites because of their home ground advantage on the Highveld.

With their two experienced Springboks, Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar, both influential figures so far in their previous four matches, the Toyota Cheetahs must be regarded as favourites for their home game against DHL WP, who are currently fifth on the log with one win from their four encounters.

The two teams managed to win a game apiece during last year’s regular fixtures – the Toyota Cheetahs took the spoils 38-21 in Bloemfontein, while DHL WP edged the white jerseys 40-39 in a thriller in Cape Town.

While the Free Staters have managed to win all four of their 2022 matches to date, including a hugely significant away win over the Vodacom Bulls, the Cape side could only manage to beat the last-placed Sigma Lions for their only win in four games.

Pienaar, still as lively as ever in the No 9 jersey for the Free State side, sits second on the top-scorers list (with 43 points) behind Tafel Lager Griquas’ kicking machine Zander du Plessis (70 points).

Du Plessis will again be an influential figure for the men from the Northern Cape when they welcome to team from Johannesburg to Tafel Lager Park.

It is never easy to play Peacock Blues on their home turf in Kimberley and the Sigma Lions will have to show a huge improvement if they want to achieve any success in the Diamond City.

Last year, the Sigma Lions edged Tafel Lager Griquas by 45-42 in a superb match in Kimberley, after they lost at home to the men from the Northern Cape (31-41).

Match information:

Tafel Lager Griquas vs Sigma Lions
Date: Wednesday, 16 March
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Kick-off: 15h30
Referee: Griffin Colby
TV: SuperSport

Toyota Cheetahs vs DHL Western Province
Date: Wednesday, 16 March
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17h45
Referee: Morné Ferreira
TV: SuperSport

Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks
Date: Wednesday, 16 March
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 20h00
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
TV: SuperSport

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