The Armchair Critic

Three games into this season's Currie Cup and the reigning champions, Western Province sit at the top of the table, the only unbeaten side in the competition.

If the log is anything to go by, the "Streeptruie" are on course to win back-to-back Currie Cup titles. But I'm not entirely convinced just yet, unless they really show their mettle against the Lions this weekend, who in my opinion, are the best side in the competition.

The Lions at Ellis Park is going to be a difficult encounter, especially after their mauling of a hapless looking Blue Bulls side. The Lions lost their opening two fixtures; games they should actually have won had they converted their opportunities. I've no doubt that the Bulls victory will have given the Lions a massive confidence boost heading into Friday's game against Western Province.

So where does that leave Province?

I think they have what it takes to beat the Lions, having shown traits of a championship winning side. Hanging on for a draw in their opening fixture against the Bulls and one-point victories in their next two games. Even on a bad day, Province have come away with the win and I think against the Lions it will be no different.

Flyhalf Kurt Coleman really needs to step up and dictate the game because an in-form and confident Elton Jantjies is lethal. If Jantjies gets going, it's going to be a tough night on the Highveld for the men from the Cape. Apart from two errors against Griquas last week, Coleman looked solid at pivot and also kicked confidently from the tee.

But he has to produce a better than 'solid' performance against the Lions; he's going to have to be at his best. Partnering him at scrumhalf is Nic Groom - one of two changes to the side. I prefer Groom ahead of Louis Schreuder - the former is more of an X-factor player and can create something out of nothing.

At hooker, Tiaan Liebenberg starts ahead of Scarra Ntubeni. Ntubeni's role in the last twenty minutes will be crucial. As was the case last week against the Bulls, the Lions upped the ante in the final quarter and Ntubeni's the right player to have on the field at that stage.

The Lions will never have the luxury of scoring a ton of tries against Province - like they did against the Bulls. The Province defence is too stingy and well-disciplined to leak that many tries. So it's going to be a tight game and the match will be decided by the boot of the flyhalf, be it from the kicking tee or tactically.

In a nutshell, I think Allister Coetzee's got his selection spot on this week. Province may not produce a mind-blowing performance, but I think they'll remain undefeated for at least another week.

Prediction: Lions 17-19 Western Province.

Kick-off is at 19h10 on Friday.

Griquas travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Cheetahs. Both teams have only one win under the belt. It's a difficult one to call, but should be an interesting encounter. The neighbouring sides are both known for their running rugby approach and the players know each other fairly well, given that the sides combine to form the Cheetahs super rugby squad.

Prediction: Cheetahs 30 - 28 Griquas.