On the sports front this weekend, we see the All Blacks on the brink of making history in Auckland, the Currie Cup hitting its highly-anticipated climax, and a big-name Premier League football rivalry being reignited.
Here are our picks for the sports matches to watch this weekend, 21-23 October:
All Blacks v Wallabies (Bledisloe Cup)
History will be made at Eden Park on Saturday night. Either the All Blacks will acheive their 18th consecutive victory to establish a new record for a Tier 1 nation, or the Wallabies will become the first visiting team to win on New Zealand soil since 2009 and at Eden Park since 1994. The Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship trophy are safely locked away in NZ’s rugby cabinet, there’s no looming World Cup distractions, and a chance to re-write the history books. Many of the senior players were there when Australia ended New Zealand’s last 17-match streak, they’ll be wanting this badly, but the All Blacks aren’t looking in any position to be slowing down so close to a milestone.
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls (Currie Cup final)
The Currie Cup season has reached its climax and the undefeated Cheetahs take on the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup final on Saturday afternoon. The Bulls will head into the final as underdogs, but have the team to cause an upset. The Bulls still rely on their traditional strength of a forward dominance but have developed a new attacking style of play, led by the strong ball carrier in Burger Odendall, dynamic Jamba Ulengo and all-rounder Beyers at fullback.
The Cheetahs back three of Petersen, Blommetjies and Rhule are deadly on attack and will likely be used again to find space out wide against the Blue Bulls. The whole team are full of confidence and will head into the Final as favourites, and with an undefeated season and home ground advantage in their favour too, it’s hard not to see them lifting the cup on Saturday night.
Toulouse v London Wasps (European Champions Cup)
Two European heavyweights go head-to-head in the European Champions Cup this weekend, which will be the seventh meeting between Wasps and Toulouse in Europe. The Premiership club have won three of the previous six, with Toulouse winning two. Wasps are coming off the back of a massive victory last week, with the London side steamrolling Zebre. Toulouse, on the other hand, have lost their last five games in the Champions Cup, their worst run in the competition so far. Excluding games at neutral venues, the home side on the day has never been beaten in matches between the two former tournament winners, and with things taking place at Wasps’ London stronghold, things should go in the favour of the English club.
Chelsea v Manchester United (Premier League)
Sunday afternoon will see two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs clash at Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho returns for the first time since his sacking last season. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 fixtures up against Manchester United, a run stretching back to 2012, and will be hoping to extend that form when their former boss returns. In the last eight clashes, there has only been one occasion on which either team scored more than once, so it may not be fair to expect goals on Sunday, but it is certain that there will be a thrilling tactical battle as Antonio Conte’s new system is put to the test by the man he replaced.
Zamalek v Sundowns (CAF Champions League final)
After a superb first leg showing in Pretoria, Mamelodi Sundowns travel to Alexandria in Egypt, to finish what they started against Zamalek, beating the White Knights 3-0. Pitso Mosimane’s side dominated for much of the game and could have even finished off as 4-0 or 5-0 victors. If Sundowns were to score in the final, it could be all over for Zamalek, who will need to win by four goals to be crowned champions. All that said, I cannot see the South African champions going down. Back Sundowns to make history and claim their first ever CAF Champions League trophy.
What are your predictions for this weekend? Which teams will come out on top in the respective encounters? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!