An early basement battle for survival. With just four games to go and both teams having lost their first two fixtures, this is already a must-win for both sides.
The Pumas have shown more promise and were the more competitive of the two winless teams over the past fortnight. They should have beaten the Golden Lions after having raced into a 16-point lead and put up a good fight against Griquas last weekend.
They struck back every time Griquas looked set to run away with things, a fighting spirit that saw them level the scores late before leaking a final try that handed the hosts a 37-29 win. At home for the first time, they’ll back themselves to break their duck against an out-of-sorts Bulls side.
The men from Pretoria’s campaign went from bad to worse when they were hammered 43-27 at home by the Cheetahs after their first-round loss at Newlands. Pote Human’s charges have been pedestrian on attack, poor on defence and seem to lack direction.
That said, they’re better than what they’ve shown so far and I see them stepping up their game enough to come away with the win.
From the bottom to the top of the log we go for this neighbourly battle. The Cheetahs made a strong statement at Loftus last weekend. They kicked down the door with their runaway win and fired a clear warning to the rest of the title hopefuls that they’re gunning for glory.
At full-strength for a change, with the competition not overlapping with the PRO14 this year, they are men on a mission and played as such when they battered the Bulls. The pack impressed – in the set pieces and tight-loose – and they punished the Pretoria side out wide.
Griquas top the standings after backing up their opening-round upset of the Sharks with a second successive bonus-point win. They varied their forms of attack well against the Pumas, penetrating the defence with a mixture of play-making interplay and forward power drives.
It wasn’t as polished a performance as the one in Durban, though. Small cracks started to appear, most notably on defence, as they let in four tries. With Franco Smith’s side looking like a far more lethal attacking threat as the Pumas, Griquas will likely struggle to contain the Cheetahs.
Western Province will want to bounce back after going down in Durban last weekend. They didn’t pitch up at Kings Park with the same intensity they displayed in their Round One win over the Bulls at Newlands. They would’ve learned their lesson and are back home this weekend, so they should come out firing.
They’re also set to be bolstered by Dillyn Leads, who’s been released from the Springbok squad and will give them some attacking flair. Siya Kolisi returned to training on Monday, but at the time of writing, it was uncertain whether the Bok captain would be available for Saturday’s clash. His inclusion would be a massive boost for the hosts.
The Lions are coming off a bye and a 38-37 win over the Pumas the previous week. The Johannesburg side have their trademark never-say-die attitude to thank for the come-from-behind win, but they’ll need more than that to conquer Province in Cape Town.
Exciting young backs like Madosh Tambwe, the four-try hero against the Pumas, and Tyrone Green could cause problems for Province out wide if the forwards front up, but that’s exactly where I see the Lions coming off second best.
Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at SARugby.com and senior staff writer at Rugby365.com, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.