Sharks, WP eye maximum points

The South African Currie Cup Premier League enters its third round of fixtures this weekend, with the Sharks hosting Griquas, Western Province facing the Pumas and the Golden Lions traveling to Pretoria to take on the Bulls.

The Sharks will expect a full haul of five points when they host the winless Griquas at King's Park in the weekend's opening match on Friday.

Griquas have conceded 99 points in their two games so far and already look like fodder for the bigger unions, while the Sharks kept the Pumas scoreless in their 29-0 victory last weekend.

The coach of the Durban-based side, Robert du Preez, has made two changes to his side for Friday's clash and admitted he expected to see a much more ruthless first half from his side this week, after they carried a 3-0 lead into the break against the Pumas.

Lock Tyler Paul replaces the injured Hyron Andrews (shoulder) and Jacques Vermeulen comes in for rested flank Jean-Luc du Preez.

"I was happy with the effort from the team to bounce back after a frustrating first half against the Pumas and the fact that we managed to stop them from scoring was even more pleasing," Du Preez said.

"It's important to carry that momentum into this match and for the players to perform, before we head on the road for two tough away matches [at the Bulls and Lions]."

The Sharks announced earlier this week that four of their leading players would not take part in the Currie Cup campaign after they signed deals to play in Japan.

Philip van der Walt, wing Lwazi Mvovo (both Canon Eagles), centre Andre Esterhuizen (Sanix Blues) and lock Stephan Lewies (Kamaishi Seawaves) will all be in Asia.

On Saturday, Western Province, beaten 30-17 in their opener at champions the Cheetahs last weekend, host the Pumas at Newlands and will expect to register their first win of the season.

WP have handed a debut to Stormers flyhalf Damian Willemse at flyhalf in what is a beefed up home side. The back three contains fullback SP Marais and wings Seabelo Senatla and Dillyn Leyds, with the centre pairing containing EW Viljoen and Dan Kriel.

Nizaam Carr replaces the injured Sikhumbuzo Notshe at the back of the scrum, while in the front row, hooker Bongi Mbonambi will have Ali Vermaak and Frans van Wyk either side of him.

"We welcome a number of talented players into the fold this week and everyone is excited by the prospect of playing at Newlands," WP coach John Dobson told reporters.

"There has been a lot of hard work put in on the training pitch this week, so hopefully that reflects in our performance."

The game of the weekend should be the Jukskei Derby between the Bulls and Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

The Bulls will have Tony Jantjies at flyhalf as one of five changes to their side, while Kefenste Mahlo comes in on the wing for Duncan Matthews.

The Golden Lions also made six changes to their team, which sees hooker Michael Willemse, prop Andrew Beerwinkel, flanker Fabian Booysen and centre Stokkies Hannekom being promoted from the bench to the starting team.