The local rugby season will switch from the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament to the opening round of the Currie Cup this weekend.
The Sharks and Pumas will kick off the competition in Durban on Friday.
The action continues on Saturday with Griquas hosting the Lions in Kimberley at 16:30, followed by the match of the weekend, the north-south derby between Western Province and the Bulls in Cape Town at 19:00.
Defending Currie Cup champions, the Free State Cheetahs, have a bye.
With the entire Super Rugby Unlocked log being carried over into the Currie Cup, the Bulls will enter the competition with a four-point lead over Western Province and the Sharks, who have each earned 19 points.
The Cheetahs trail by a further two points (17) and the fifth-placed Lions (12 points) are already spotting their cross-Jukskei rivals a massive 11-point lead without a ball having been kicked in anger.
The Pumas and Griquas, who are at the foot of the standings on seven and three points, respectively, are there to make up the numbers this season.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27
SHARKS V PUMAS, DURBAN – 19:00
15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Thembelani Bholi, 7 JJ van der Mescht, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Hanro Jacobs, 19 Zain Davids, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Sbu Nkosi.
15 Devon Williams, 14 Morne Joubert, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Francois Kleinhans, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Pieter Janse van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 HP van Schoor, 1 Liam Hendricks
Substitutes: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Wikus Groenewald, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Heath Backhouse, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Wayne van der Bank, 22 Tapiwa Mafura, 23 Dewald Maritz
REFEREE: Rasta Rashivhenge
PREDICTION: One-way traffic at Kings Park as the Sharks get their Currie Cup campaign off to an easy start. Home side by 20 points.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28
GRIQUAS V LIONS, KIMBERLEY – 16:30
15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Johan Momsen, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli
Substitutes (from): 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Carl Els, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Andre Swarts, 23 Enver Brandt, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Ewan Coetzee, 26 Masixole Banda
15 EW Viljoen, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole
Substitutes (from): 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Ross Cronjé, 21 Dan Kriel, 22 Tiaan Swanepoel, 23 Jannie du Plessis, 24 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 25 Manuel Rass
REFEREE: Marius van der Westhuizen
PREDICTION: Nice away match to start for the Lions who need every log point they can get – and they’ll get 5 for winning by at least 15 points.
WESTERN PROVINCE V BULLS, CAPE TOWN – 19:00
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Kwenzo Blose, 19 Neethling Fouche, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Chris van Zyl, 22 Jaco Coetzee, 23 Marcel Theunissen, 24 Godlen Masimla, 25 Tim Swiel, 26 Ruhan Nel
15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren
REFEREE: AJ Jacobs
PREDICTION: The Bulls are riding high after their Super Rugby Unlocked victory, but Newlands is a tough venue to start their Currie Cup season. John Dobson’s WP side to upset Jake White’s men in a thriller … by 3 points.
BYE: Free State Cheetahs
Currie Cup competition format
The Currie Cup champion will be the team that wins the final on January 23, 2021. The top four teams on the log will progress to the semi-finals (the top-placed will host the team that finishes fourth and the second placed team, the team finishes third), with the final hosted by the winning semi-finalist who finished highest on the log.
In the event of two or more teams being equal on log points for any position on the standings, either during or at the end of the season, such position will be decided upon using the following steps until the tie is broken:
a) Highest aggregate points difference from all matches;
b) Highest aggregate tries difference from all matches;
c) Highest points difference with team tied on the log from matches between those sides;
d) Most points scored in all group matches;
e) Most tries scored in all group matches;
f) Coin toss.
Win: 4 points
Draw: 2 points
Loss: 0 points for loss by more than 7 points
Bonus: 1 point for loss by 7 points or fewer
Bonus: 1 point for scoring 3 tries or more than opponent