The AOR team anticipates which position battle will win the war for the 2018 Currie Cup title at Newlands on Saturday.
Tank Lanning — Vermaak versus Du Toit
In the 2017 final, loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg’s demolition job on Ross Geldenhuys went a long way to securing the trophy for the Blue and White. This year, Ali Vermaak, deputy to JC in 2017, will be tasked with doing something similar – against a guy who in the equivalent fixture in Durban just 12 months ago was packing down at loosehead for the Sharks.
Confusing? Indeed! Throw in the fact that the likely tighthead on the bench for the Sharks on Saturday, Coenie Oosthuizen, is also a retreaded loosehead, and you have the golden head-to-head right there – Vermaak vs Thomas du Toit.
Stock up the coolerbox, fire up the kameeldoring, load the grid, sit back and enjoy!
Du Toit, a truly world-class loosehead in his own right, was asked to move to the other side of the scrum by the powers that be, and has been taking baby steps along an incredibly tricky path. He goes okay when the waters are calm, but it’s when the sea horses blow in that things get much more uncomfortable for a guy essentially still learning his trade.
Enter Vermaak, perhaps the most underrated player in SA right now. Monumental this season for WP, especially in the last two games, this stocky, brick outhouse is built to scrum. At a wet Loftus, Trevor Nyakane was taught a lesson. At a dry Newlands, it was Dayan van der Westhuizen who was introduced to the textbook. And he will be out to do the same against Du Toit on Saturday.
For some reason, we love trying to switch props from loosehead to tighthead in SA. And with the talk around switching Nyakane back to loosehead, Vermaak has an opportunity to put both switches to bed.
Zelím Nel – Leyds versus Bosch
Promoting a showdown between two props is a bit like the backs talking up a squatting contest – nobody wants to see that! No, Newlands will be packed full of fans eager to see their favourite flyboy dive over for the winning try.
With a trophy riding on the outcome, risk management will be a priority and that means the finalists will have spent a fair chunk of this week checking the locks that secure their respective defensive walls.
Points will come first from kicks at goal, so the duel between SP Marais and Rob du Preez is certain to be a thriller. But, in an even contest, the trophy will inevitably slide towards the 2018 champions on the outcome of decisions taken during key moments of the match, and that brings us to the shootout between Dillyn Leyds and Curwin Bosch.
Leyds is arguably the Currie Cup’s most savvy decision-maker, and he’s built a reputation for coming through in the clutch with big plays. A no-look, flick pass from the deck spawned the game-winning try for the Stormers against the Chiefs last year, and he was at it again in last week’s semi-final, sending Marais in for a vital touchdown in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Bosch boasts the most prodigious array of kicking skills in the country. Field position is everything in tight games and no-one in the Republic can harvest territory like the Sharks fullback. Given time and space, Bosch is also lethal on the counter-attack.
The East coast finalists will rely on Bosch to parachute an abrasive Sharks pack into the strike zone. The defending champions will depend on Leyds to contain and respond to that assault.
The prudence of each fullback’s decisions will swing the final.
You’ve read what they think, which head-to-head do you think will crown the Currie Cup champions?