Preview: Vodacom Cup Final
Will the Pumas be crowned as the eighth Vodacom Cup champions, or will the Golden Lions set themselves apart as the most successful team in the 16-year history of this competition?
These questions will be answered at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday where the Pumas host the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup final.
For the team from Mpumalanga, this is new ground – they have never played in a Vodacom Cup final before. Prior to this season, their best performance was reaching the semi-finals in 2007 and 2012. On both occasions they lost, but last weekend, the Pumas ensured they will host the final by beating the EP Kings at home.
Jimmy Stonehouse’s team has been very consistent all season. They lost only once in the pool phase and finished as the top team in the North Section. Their victories included good wins in Pretoria over the Blue Bulls and in Kimberley over Griquas.
Ironically, their only defeat came at the hands of the Golden Lions in Round Six. By that stage of the competition, Johan Ackermann’s team was with their backs against the wall and any defeat would have spelled the end of their campaign in 2012.
The Golden Lions started the season very badly and lost three of their first four Vodacom Cup encounters. They turned things around and have been on a good winning sequence, recording five consecutive wins en route to the final.
The Pumas have selected an unchanged team for the second consecutive week.
Ackermann has opted for consistency and made just one change to the team which beat Western Province in last weekend’s semi-final. Jaco Kriel is back at the side of the scrum after recuperating from a knee injury. He will partner Warwick Tecklenburg at flank, with Willie Britz moving to the bench.
Only seven teams have won the Vodacom Cup – Griquas and the Golden Lions (four times each), the Blue Bulls (three), Western Province, Free State XV, Valke and Pampas XV (once each).
Pumas: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Bell, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Eduan van der Walt, 4 Uzair Cassiem, 3 Ivann Espag, 2 Frankie Herne, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Momberg, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 DeJay Terblanche, 19 Marius Coetzer, 20 RW Kember, 21 Jerome Pretorius, 22 Dewald Pretorius.
Golden Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Van Zyl Botha, 18 JJ Breet, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronjé, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Dylan Des Fountain.
Date: Friday, May 19
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge and Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee