Bulldogs get set to spice up the Currie Cup

First Division contest will prove a solid test after Challenge faultlines

Try-scorer Athenkosi Manentsa of Border Bulldogs will look to impress for his team when the Currie Cup First Divison kicks off next month.
Try-scorer Athenkosi Manentsa of Border Bulldogs will look to impress for his team when the Currie Cup First Divison kicks off next month.
Image: Gallo Images

The Border Bulldogs have been hard at work over the past month as they prepare themselves for their next major challenge, the Currie Cup First Division competition, which kicks off next month.

The Bulldogs have been out of action since they were dumped out of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge last month after failing to reach the knockout rounds.

They will thus be gunning for a much better showing in this year’s First Division.

“This is our third week back at training. We took a couple of weeks off after the end of the SuperSport Challenge, but we are making sure we will be ready for the start of the Currie Cup,” said Bulldogs coach, Tiger Mangweni.

“The team pushed hard over the first two weeks back, and we have now started taking it a bit easier as we don’t want to push the guys too hard and get injuries before the start of the competition.

“But we are keeping them sharp and fit and making sure the players do what is needed of them.”

The team will play a couple of warmup games over the next two weeks ahead of the start of the Bulldogs First Division campaign on August 25.

They will meet the Cheetahs U21 side next week, before taking on the Kings sometime over the two weeks after that.

“We have confirmed that we will play the Cheetahs U21s in East London, but are still waiting to hear when it will be. We were hoping for Friday next week but the exact date is still to be confirmed,” said Mangweni.

“We have also agreed to take on the Kings in a warmup game and we were hoping to play them here on August 11, but they will be playing SWD then, so they said we should travel to PE on the 18th, but we still have to confirm those times as well.”

In the First Division the Bulldogs will be looking to a blend of seasoned senior players and exciting youth to lead them to a successful campaign.

Players such as Billy Dutton, Blake Kyd, Sinovuyo Nyoka and Athenkosi Manentsa will be looking to play important roles in leading the side, while exciting players who are enjoying their first full season with the team, like Somila Jho, Somila Mantyoyi and Aphiwe Stemele, will be keen to impress.

“We haven’t yet been able to sit down as a group and map out our goals for the First Division, but as a coach I would say we need to make it to the knockout stages for it to be considered a good campaign,” said Mangweni.

Over the next few weeks the Bulldogs will be working hard in training to make sure that they are fully prepared for the challenge of the First Division and that they are ready for whatever is thrown at them.

“There is still much work to do. We are trying to fix the things we did wrong in the SuperSport Challenge and improve on the things we did right so that we become a stronger team,” said Mangweni.

“Some of the things to work on are cutting out the basic errors, keep our scrum which has been good going, adjust a few things in our lineout to make sure the maul is working and polish off our defence.

“We have been happy with our attack, but there is always room for improvement, and we will look to add an extra dimension or two to our game.”

The Bulldogs will kick-off their Currie Cup First Division campaign against the Valke in Johannesburg on August 25.