Can The Airline Pumas Continue Their Dominance Over Sigma Lions?


Getting Round 2 of the Carling Currie Cup action underway will be the fifth-placed Airlink Pumas, who are playing at home against the seventh-placed Sigma Lions @ 15h30, and the Lowvelders will no doubt be eager to add a second scalp in as many games following their 37-11 away win over the DHL WP in the previous round.

Last year, Jimmy Stonehouse's team managed to beat the Sigma Lions 39-10 in Nelspruit and 36-33 in Johannesburg. On current form and with a solid win over DHL WP under their belt, the Airlink Pumas should feel confident about extending their winning streak over the team from Gauteng.

Airlink Pumas head coach Jimmy Stonehouse kept the changes to his squad to a minimum. The only change to the starting line-up is at lock with Malembe Mpofu who is replacing Darrien Landsberg, Landsberg drops to the bench. Giovan Snyman is included on the bench replacing Lucky Dlepu in the only other change to the squad.

The Sigma Lions head coach Mziwakhe Nkosi named his match 23, which includes former Junior Springbok stars Tyler Bocks and James Mollentze, as well as the return from injury of exciting back Ngia Selengbe, who could make an appearance from the replacement’s bench.

Asenathi Ntlabakanye, fresh from Vodacom United Rugby Championship duty, assumes the captain’s armband to lead a pack that features powerhouse lock forward PJ Steenkamp. Sasko Ndlovu, also a national representative at the junior level, gets his first start of the competition.

“We have a second bite at the cherry against the Airlink Pumas,” says Nkosi who admits that his team’s first outing against the side from Mbombela posed a bit of a challenge in week two of the competition.

“The biggest message to our guys in our preparations is that we need to match them physically from a set-piece point of view as well as on the go-forward ball,” advised Nkosi.

“We’re quite excited about the team we’ve selected. If you look at the makeup of the side, it’s guys who’ve put up their hands and are now being duly rewarded. The key thing now is to get a bit of synergy and play as a team.”

“It’s been a challenging season for us from a Carling Currie Cup perspective. Our depth has been tested week in and week out, but despite that, it’s afforded opportunities for some of our players from the Varsity Cup to put their hands up and stake their claim in senior rugby,” he concluded.

Airlink Pumas: 15. Tapiwa Mafura, 14. Sebastian de Klerk, 13. Alwayno Visagie, 12. Eddie Fouche, 11. Jade Stighling, 10. Tinus de Beer, 9. Chriswill September, 8. Willie Engelbrecht (c), 7. Anele Lungisa, 6. Daniel Maartens, 5. Shane Kirkwood, 4. Malembe Mpofu, 3. IG Prinsloo, 2. Eduan Swart, 1. Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16. Llewellyn Classen, 17. Dewald Maritz, 18. Etienne Janeke, 19. Darrien Landsberg, 20. Phumzile Maqondwana, 21. Giovan Snyman, 22. Ali Mgijima, 23. Devon Williams.

Sigma Lions: 15. Vaughen Isaacs, 14. Boldwin Hansen, 13. James Mollentze, 12. Tyler Bocks, 11. Zeilinga Strydom, 10. Luke Rossouw (VC), 9. Jurich Claasens, 8. Jarod Cairns, 7. Lindo Ncusane, 6. Sasko Ndlovu, 5. Lunga Ncube/Cal Smid, 4. PJ Steenkamp, 3. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2. Jacques-Lois du Toit, 1. Kayden Kiewit. Replacements: 16. Dameon Venter, 17. Banele Mthenjane, 18. Chergin Fillies, 19. Connor van Buuren, 20. Cal Smid/MJ Pelser, 21. Ginter Smuts, 22. James Tedder, 23. Ngia Selengbe.