Crunch time in South Africa
October 8, 2009
Western Province speedster Sireli Naqelevuki will be hoping to propel his side to the top of the table this weekend © Getty Images
This weekend sees the final round of the regular season in this year's Currie Cup with the remaining semi-final place yet to be decided.
Western Province and the Sharks can rest easy in the knowledge that their place in the last four is assured but they will however be targeting a top-of-the-table finish that will guarantee them home advantage should they progress to the final.
Behind the leaders the Blue Bulls are also post-season bound thanks to their 61-27 thumping of the Griquas last time out leaving the latter and the Free State Cheetahs to battle it out for the final berth this weekend.
The Griquas are in pole position with a four point advantage over the Cheetahs and as a result a two-point haul from their final clash with high-flying Sharks in Kimberley on Saturday would extend their season.
The Griquas received a boost earlier this week when captain Jonathan Mokuena was given the green light for the game earlier this week by a SARU disciplinary hearing that was convened as a result of three yellow cards. But the Sharks have also been bolstered by the return of centre Riaan Swanepoel and prop John Smit.
Free State travel to Wellington to take on Boland with flanker Heinrich Brussow back in their line-up while Danwel Demas gets the nod on the right wing. And in a surprise move Coenie Oosthuizen will pack down at tight-head instead of his usual loose-head berth.
The Blue Bulls will tackle the Leopards in Potchefstroom with fit-again lock Bakkies Botha in their ranks following the Springbok's recovery from a medial ligament injury. He will link up once again with international colleague Victor Matfield while Danie Rossouw will pack down at the back of the scrum in the place of the injured Pierre Spies.
A hamstring injury for Bryan Habana sees Gerhard van den Heever fill the No.11 shirt with scrum-half Fourie du Preez named among the replacements.
In the weekend's other game Western Province, who lead the table on points difference, tackle the Golden Lions at Ellis Park without injured prop Brok Harris and flanker Schalk Burger who continues to battle back from a rib injury.
Winger Gio Apolon can expect to see some action off the bench as he completes his recovery from an ankle injury while the side will once again be led by Luke Watson - fresh from a hat-trick of tries last weekend. The Lions appear to be relatively injury-free with Earl Rose set to feature at fullback.
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game