On the sports front this weekend, we see a big-name football rivalry reignite in the Premier League, the rugby focus shift to the various club competitions in both hemisphere due to a break in the Rugby Championship, and the Proteas’ attempt to down the Irish in a historic match to be played in Benoni.
Here are our picks for the sports matches to watch this weekend:
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup rugby)
The Free State Cheetahs have come out of the blocks firing in this year’s Currie Cup season and are currently topping the log with 29 points. This weekend they have the tough task of heading to Nelspruit to take on the Pumas, who haven’t been in their usual winning form as of yet. With just two rounds of matches left in the tournament, this fixture is important for both sides albeit for different reasons. The Pumas are yet to win a match this year and are languishing in second last place in the standings while the Cheetahs are the only side in the competition who have won all their matches and are sitting comfortably at the top of the table. Both these sides employ expansive game-plans so don’t be surprised if this fixture delivers a large dosage of end-to-end action with plenty of tries at the end of the match.
Prediction: Cheetahs by 10
Arsenal v Chelsea (Premier League football)
The pick of this weekend’s English Premier League fixtures sees Arsenal host Chelsea on Saturday evening with both sides having ground to make up in the title race. This promises to be Arsenal’s biggest test in the Premier League since an under-strength side were beaten 4-3 by Liverpool at The Emirates on the opening weekend. That said, things have gone their way in the last two league matches with a controversial late penalty helping them to a 2-1 home win over Southampton and they made a numerical advantage count in a 4-1 win at Hull last weekend. After beating Leicester in a midweek League Cup game, Chelsea have a chance to get their title challenge back on track after enduring a draw and loss in their last two recent league games.
Prediction: 1-1 draw
Wits v Orlando Pirates (Absa Premiership football)
No. 1 and No. 2 on the log go head-to-head as Wits host Pirates in their Absa Premiership battle for supremacy. Wits – tipped for silverware in 2016-17 – are looking in great form, with their defence in particular impressing so far this season. The Bucs will have to put in a big effort to break the Clever Boys down and find the net. With four successive clean sheets in league and cup games, Wits are undoubtedly a tough team to crack, and should be too difficult at home for Pirates to make headway.
Prediction: 1-0 to Wits
Toulon v Clermont (French Top 14 rugby)
The two big French giants clash this weekend as Clermont head to the Stade Félix-Mayol to take on Toulon. The star-studded Toulon have not been firing so far this season, taking on three losses and only two wins, while Clermont are in stronger form, sitting at the top of the French Top 14 table, 2 points clear of La Rochelle. Toulon saw themselves fall to defending champions Racing Metro last weekend, while Clermont racked up an impressive 40-16 victory over Bordeaux Begles. It should prove to be an interesting encounter, one which Clermont are the clear favourites, but with Toulon’s erratic star-qualities that seem to emerge and recede all too quickly, it could swing either way.
Prediction: Toulon by 3
South Africa v Ireland (ODI cricket)
Proteas coach, Russell Domingo, has full faith in the group of batsmen for use in the upcoming Momentum One-day International (ODI) against Ireland on Sunday, despite the unavailability of the No.1 ranked AB de Villiers due to injury. Domingo says De Villiers’ absence will be an ‘opportunity for someone make a play’, and is confident the rest of the established batsmen in the squad will be just as effective and successful. The squad boasts a number of exciting new faces, one of the newest being Temba Bavuma, whom Domingo confirmed will open the batting at Sahara Park Willowmoore on Sunday. All-rounders, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius have been rewarded for their performances at South Africa A level, and add good balance with their capabilities with both bat and ball.
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!