After 40 pool matches at 20 venues across South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe over the past five weeks, there is precious little to choose between the eight remaining Gold Cup teams contesting this coming weekend’s eagerly awaited quarterfinals.
SA Rugby’s three-nation championship for non-university clubs has exploded into life following a dramatic final round of the group stages and only a brave pundit would be prepared to put big money on any of the teams in the belief they are a sure bet.
For the truth of the matter is that there is very little to choose between the sides, the competitiveness of club rugby at the top level having increased exponentially over the past three years and especially during a landmark 2016 season which saw the Gold Cup move to a more logical post-season time-slot.
Saturday’s big televised match sees Pretoria Police – who last won a national title 20 years ago – take on DirectAxis False Bay in a mouthwatering Blue Bulls v Western Province club clash. Fittingly, the match takes place at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, as a curtain-raiser to the Currie Cup semifinal between the same two unions (kick-off 3:10pm, DStv channel 197).
SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, touched on the significance of club rugby’s newfound raised profile when he said: “Last week we had a Gold Cup pool match in Rustenburg that was a broadcast curtain-raiser to a Springbok-All Black test and this week things have gone up another notch.
“A north-south Gold Cup quarterfinal is big enough, but playing it as a curtain-raiser to a Currie Cup semifinal presents us with a unique double-header and provides yet more fantastic exposure for the clubs, their sponsors, and the Gold Cup brand itself. Once again I call on all rugby fans who want to watch some ‘feel-good’ rugby to tune in and be part of the amazing revival currently happening in club rugby.”
Fans across the country who cannot get to Loftus would do well to heed Roux’s call and tune in – club rugby is fast regaining its popularity of years gone by.
Police come into the game with a full house of 20 points, meaning that they are well set to host a home semifinal and final should they get that far. Having said that, they have not quite hit their straps in this year’s Gold Cup and Saturday could be the day they turn it on. In turn, False Bay lost to Brakpan in the pool stages but will have learned a lot from the ‘Battle of Brakpan’ and should push the Policemen all the way.
Pretoria Police (15-1):
Phumudzo Tshiovhe, Pieter Botha, Willem Odendaal, Pieter Strydom, Ivan Venter, Dillon Laubscher, Hendrik van der Nest, Louis van Biljon, Vincent Gwavu, Johan van Deventer, Divan Steenkamp, Jerry Sefoko, Rayno Wasserman (c), Johan Pieterse, Hannes Ludik. Replacements: Marthinus Hoffman, Boris van Jaarsveld, Imilius Keyser, Sam Niemand, Morne Hugo, Hendrik Pieterse, Tlhabana Motsepe.
DirectAxis False Bay:
Adnaan Oesman, Danie Roux, Byron Mohr, Riaan O’Neill, Mustaqeem Jappie, Andri Claassen, Dylon Frylinck, Ryan Olivier, Justin van Winkel, Brent Stevens, Brandon Wood, Graham Knoop (c), Ashley Wells, Andre van Vuuren, Wesley Chetty. Replacements: Dasch Barber, Wesley Futter, Willie Coetzee, Aiden Monk, Ridhaa Damon, Jason Pretorius, Roemark Smith.
The winner of the Police-False Bay quarterfinal will play a semifinal against the winner of the match in Cape Town between defending champions Durbanville-Bellville and SWD champions RSK Evergreens, who pulled off three dramatic come-from-behind victories in a row, including a famous win against FNB Wanderers in Windhoek last weekend, to reach the last eight for the second time in four years.
The champions have rebuilt themselves remarkably quickly under new coach Bobby Joubert and look well set to defend their title, especially if, as some believe, False Bay beat Police and next Sunday’s semifinal is at Durbell’s headquarters, where ‘Durbies’ rarely lose. But anyone who writes off Evergreens does so at their peril. They are expertly coached by Alrico Beukes, have the physicality to mix it with bigger teams, and have class backs including the brothers C-Than and Leegan Moos. And not forgetting one of the players of the tournament, flanker Freginald Africa.
Raymond Olivier, Roderick Moses, Francois Malherbe, Janco Gunter, Jason Kriel, Angus Cleophas, Gideon Thiart, Karl Liebenberg, Brendon Esterhuizen, Andrew Picoto, Michael Badenhorst, Daneel-Hermann Botes, Ashston Constant, Arend Brink, Ashley Kohler. Replacements: Albert van der Linde, Eduard Loubser, Stephen Potgieter, Conway Pretorius, Denzel Willemse, Cheslyn Roberts, Etienne Swarts.
Leegan Moos, Dowayne Smart, Divandre Strydom, Deon Stoffels, Clint Miller, C-Than Moos, Rudi Michaels, Gerschwin Muller, Buran Parks, Freginald Africa, Marvin November, Arden Wesso, Glenwyne Vaaltyn, Layle Delo Anvor Prins. Replacements: Byron November, Anston Bernardo, Isaac Treurnicht, Llewellyn Treurnicht, Mario Noordman, Chadley Stride, Gideon Lambrechts.
On the other side of the draw, Valke champions Siyaya Brakpan host Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police, who this year have surprised friend and foe alike after finishing 16th in 2015. Police have been very impressive this year, winning three of their four matches, but Brakpan have Bosman Stadium as their fortress and, as False Bay found out when the WP champions lost their first match of 2016 there a few weeks ago, it will take a flawless performance from the PE Bobbies to upset the Brakke.
Hagen Mumba, Thinus Ueckermann, Ronnie Roets, Christo Joubert, Leon Potgieter, Raydall Walters, Clayton Gindan, Theo Mynhardt, Francois Robbertse (c), Jaco Lotter, Dwane Morrison, Theo Becker, Jason Arundel, Ian Oosthuizen, Pierre Foord. Replacements: Izak Moller, Armandt Jordaan, Ricky Menezes, Wikus van der Berg, Shaun Botes, Gido Horn, Luzuko Ndanda.
Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police:
Ruan Allerston, Eben Barnard, Echard Jacobs, Alwyn Jordaan (c), Sebastiaan Loxen, Justin Peach, Daniel Vosloo, Lyle Walters, Frans Gerber, Ferdie Gerber, Hannes Huisamen, Wayne van Heerden, Dwayne Kinghorn, Stephan Deyzel, Lyle Lombard. Replacements: Marius Olivier, Matthew Moore, Chris Zeelie, Dewald Meyer, Kevin Plaatjies, Damien Moultrie, Kyle Scott.
The winner of the battle of Bosman Stadium will then have to negotiate a semifinal against either 2014 champions and last year’s runners-up, Rustenburg Impala, or KZN champions Your Communications College Rovers, who clash in Rustenburg in the final quarterfinal.
College Rovers have mixed memories of playing in Rustenburg. They won the last-ever club championships there four years ago, but lost twice over last year’s Community Cup Easter weekend to finish sixth out of eight at the tournament. But this is a different Rovers side compared to years gone by, with a bigger emphasis on team spirit and the collective, for which young coaches Derek Heiberg and Mike Vowles must take a lot of credit.
But this young Rovers side will have to be at their best to trouble Impala, who for 50 minutes were in imposing form against Pirates during last week’s 57-31 win over the men from Johannesburg, and who possess some of the best players in the tournament, including a deadly loose trio spearheaded by eighthman Leon du Plessis and flanker Justin Wheeler.
Xolani Nkosi, Dumisani Matyeshana, Justin St Jerry, Gysbert van Wyk, Aubrey McDonald, Cecil Dumond, Nico Kruger, Leon du Plessis, Justin Wheeer, Johan Engelbrecht, Tiaan Nel, Robbie Rawlins, Zander de Kock, Bruce Muller, Louis Hollamby. Replacements: Gavin Williamson, Ivann Espag, Henro Huyser, JP le Grange, Stefan Kruger, Francois van Biljon, McDonald Duma.
Your Communications College Rovers:
Gavin Scott, Mark Richards, Matt Phillips, Brandon Bailing, Tythan Adams, Chris Jordaan, Warren Randall, Kelvin Adam, Mesuli Mncwango, Jean Pretorius, Sanele Sibanda, Paul Bester, Luciando Santos, Jandre Jacobs, Jarrett Crouch. Replacements: Chris Kemp, Njabulo Mkize, Witness Mandhiza, Le Roux Viljoen, Dumisani Dyonase, Kyle Wilkinson, Gary Collins.
Knockout fixtures & Teams (15h30 unless otherwise indicated):
Saturday 15 October:
QF1 – Siyaya Brakpan v Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan)
QF2 – Rustenburg Impala v Your Communications College Rovers (Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)
QF3 – Pretoria Police v DirectAxis False Bay (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, 15h15 – SuperSport Channel 197)
QF4 – Durbanville-Bellville v RSK Evergreens (Durbell RFC, Cape Town)
Sunday 23 October (both matches live on SuperSport 1/HD):
SF1 – Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 (Time & Venue TBC)
SF2 – Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 (Time & Venue TBC)
Saturday 29 October (live on SuperSport 1/HD):
Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (Time & Venue TBC)
Article by Duane Heath - SuperSport