By Joslyn Titus
Full-blooded war, tenacious, unforgiving. Any one of them could easily describe a clash between traditional rivals Western Province and the Blue Bulls.
That old rivalry continues on Saturday when the two sides meet at Newlands in the quarter-finals of the Vodacom Cup competition.
WP comprehensively beat the Border Bulldogs to advance to the play-off rounds while the Bulls allowed the Lions to scrape through at Loftus last Friday.
As WP coach Gert Smal pointed out yesterday, the Bulls remain a tough proposition - wounded Bulls are even more dangerous.
"Although I have seen them play only once on television, we know what they can do," Smal said.
"There are a few areas where we can take them on," he added.
Although Smal has identified some weaknesses in the Bulls side, he has not turned a blind eye to the shortcomings in his own side.
Goal-kicking has turned out to be a major worry for the coach.
Northerns pivot Patrick Petersen has had a torrid time with kicks at goal and was subsequently dropped for last Friday's match against Border. His replacement Chris Rossouw did not do much better, kicking two out of seven.
"We simply cannot afford to miss kicks in the play-offs. It is something that we will address strongly this week," Smal said.
Scrumhalf Cassie Carstens eventually received an SOS call in the latter stages of the Border game, slotting two conversions.
It seems he knows the trick to kick goals and whatever he is doing right, he must pass on to the No 1 kicker.
Smal is keen to continue his attacking style of play and his players have responded magnificently. Their nine tries against Border were fully deserved and well executed.
"I like adventurous rugby and so do the players. Sure, they will make mistakes along the way, but there's no point in being afraid to make them. If you play expansive rugby you will make mistakes but we must keep them down to a minimum," Smal said.
Western Province came out of the Border game without any major injuries, the only casualty being lock Quinton Davids, who left the field because of a severe knock to the nose.
But Smal said nothing was broken and, if Davids is cleared, the team to play the Bulls is expected to be unchanged.
WP captain Tinus Linee, who played his 100th game for the province last Friday, said although they have not seen much of the Bulls, he knows what to expect.
"In all the years I've played against them they have always fielded a strong pack - they are a physical side so they will be looking to dominate up front and hit us with their backs," Linee said.
The Bulls, on the other hand, not only went down to the Lions but lost their captain Jacques Olivier as well.
The seasoned campaigner sprained his ankle in the Bulls's 20-14 defeat by their neighbours and is doubtful for the quarter-final.
Four adopted Bulls in Brendall Brandt, Trevor Arendse, Norman Jordaan (all Tygerberg) and Chelton April Northerns-Avonwood) won't find Cape Town a foreign city.
Boland, meanwhile, scraped through to the play-offs, but in Griquas face a formidable side.
The Cavaliers finished level on 17 points with Eastern Province but the Port Elizabeth side are third because they have a better points difference.
Boland have fielded players with tremendous promise this year... Marius Joubert, Lean van Dyk, Ashwen Willemse and Sean Furter. Add to that the experience of scrumhalf Stanley Raubenheimer and it becomes clear why Rudy Joubert is such a satisfied coach. Can't say that referees get his stamp of approval, though.
South group log leaders Free State are the front runners for Vodacom Cup silverware this year.
In spite of player losses to other provinces, the Cheetahs have once again dug deep into their reserves to produce a side capable of winning a provincial competition.
In flyhalf Kennedy Tsimba they have a solid all-rounder. He can kick, pass and score tries.
He tops the points-scorers list with 113 points, ahead of the North West Leopards's Roland de Marigny (93) and Blue Bull Tiaan Snyman (93).
Tsimba was again the mastermind behind Free State's win over Natal at the weekend which saw the Durban side tumble out the competition.
Free State host defending champions the Lions in their quarter-final clash in Bloemfontein on Friday afternoon.
It should be a cracker as both enter this encounter in positive mode following wins at the weekend.
The Falcons and Eastern Province complete the quarter-final draw in Brakpan.
If you buy one seating ticket you get another one free. Seats go for R25 and standing room tickets are R20 (Grand Stand) and R10 (Danie Craven stand).
Gates open at 1pm
Kimberley: Griquas v Boland (4pm start but delayed to 7pm on CSN)
Bloemfontein: Free State v Lions (5.10pm live onSupersport)
Newlands: WP v Bulls (3pm live on SABC3 )
Brakpan: Falcons v EP (5pm on SABC3)