Currie Cup Rugby Schedule 2013: Fixtures and Predictions for the Weekend

Christopher AtkinsContributor IOctober 12, 2013

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 04: Dale Chadwick of the Sharks is tackled by Handre Pollard of the Blue Bulls during the Absa Currie Cup match between Vodacom Blue Bulls and The Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on October 04, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
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The final round of fixtures in the Premier Division of South Africa's Currie Cup takes place this weekend, with three sides competing for the final two playoff places.

With Western Province and the Natal Sharks already safely through to the playoffs, it is left to the Cheetahs, the Lions and the Blue Bulls to slog it out in the final round for a shot at lifting the 2013 title.

The Griquas, meanwhile, are consigned to bottom place in the standings and have already turned their attention to the impending relegation playoff.


Golden Lions 30-10 Griquas

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 16:  Brynard Stander of the Sharks looking to tackle Guy Cronje of the Lions during the Absa Currie Cup match between The Sharks and MTN Golden Lions at Growthpoint Kings Park on August 16, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. (Phot
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Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann is boosted by the return of Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe as his side seek the win over the Griquas, they need to seal a semifinal place.

With the Griquas choosing to rest their star players ahead of upcoming promotion-relegation playoffs, per Rugby Week, there could well be the opportunity for Ackermann's side to run up a big score.

The Griquas have a good defensive record in the tournament, claiming five bonus points for losing by fewer than seven points this campaign.

Despite the presence of international Willie Le Roux, 10 changes is too much for any side to mount a formidable challenge—yet alone a side already bottom of the table.


Cheetahs 25-18 Bulls

The remaining two sides in the hunt of a semifinal place meet at the Free State stadium later in the evening, knowing that they likely need a win to progress to the semifinals.

Indeed, by the time the game kicks off they will know the result of the earlier fixture and, most likely, the Lions will have secured their place in the last four.

Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen return from international duty to line up in the front row for the Cheetahs—an area where they will look to dominate their opponents. However, the Blue Bulls welcome back two Springboks of their own in centres JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein, per Rugby Week.

Should the Lions win, the Bulls would need to overturn a 22-point difference to reach the semifinals, as well as claim a try bonus point. Even winning the game in Bloemfontein, though, is a significant ask.


Sharks 20-19 Western Province

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Louis Ludik of Sharks in action during the Absa Currie Cup match between DHL Western Province and The Sharks from DHL Newlands on September 07, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Ge
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The final match of Saturday evening sees the Sharks host Western Province in what could well be a dry run for the final, with both teams set to host their respective semifinals.

A host of Springbok stars return for both sides, although Western Province have opted to rest international captain Jean de Villiers; with top spot up for grabs, we should be in for an enthralling contest.

Neither side will want to lose momentum ahead of upcoming challenges, and both teams will be aware of the likelihood of another matchup in a fortnight's time. A psychological boost now would help considerably.

The Sharks' international front row returning, per BDLive, should be enough to see them home in front of their passionate supporters, but they will not find it easy against an excellent Western Province side.

As Supersport point out, securing top spot also secures a lucrative financial windfall for the union that holds the final, so expect fireworks.