The real test for Western Province's Currie Cup credentials starts this weekend in Wellington when the Streeptruie travel to Wellington to face a fired-up Boland who will be out to prove a point in the Cape rugby derby against their illustrious city rivals.

Five points is non negotiable for Province in the opening Premier Division fixture as next weekend they host the Bulls at Newlands, where a full house of points would put them in a powerful position to eventually finish strongly on the log, in contention to host one of the two semifinals on October 14-15.

Defending champions the Bulls looked vulnerable in the Currie Cup qualifying round. Without star Springboks Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Jacques Cronjé, Pedrie Wannenburg, Gurthro Steenkamp and Fourie du Preez they crashed to a home defeat to the Sharks before being humiliated by the Lions at Ellis Park last Saturday.

The consequence of a third place finish in the Section X log has thus presented coach Heyneke Meyer's side with a tough opening schedule of Premier Division matches that they will have to negotiate without their Boks.

Province would have been in an even stronger position with two more log points in the qualifying round that would have enabled them to top the Section Y log ahead of Free State, who play the Bulls at Loftus this weekend.

Second place on the log, nonetheless, was sufficient to secure a favourable enough schedule that will see them hosting the Sharks at Newlands in September before travelling to Loftus the following week for their return fixture against the Bulls.

The Springboks will be back in South Africa for this match, but only just and will still be jet-lagged after a tough Tri-Nations campaign, so it's debatable whether they will be psychologically and physically ready for Currie Cup rugby.

Apart from a hiccup in their opening fixture against Free State, where poor goal-kicking from Chris Rossouw cost Province victory after they had out-scored the Cheetahs by three tries to one, WP's overall form in the qualifying round suggested they had enough depth to cover for their absent Springboks.

By contrast the Bulls, after losing 14-18 to the Sharks, were annihilated on Saturday where the Lions gorged them in a 46-17 feeding frenzy.

Province's rivals will be quick to point out that apart from Free State, the Cape side faced no serious opposition in the preliminary matches against the Leopards, Border, Griquas, the Pumas and the Griffons that were all easily won.

In the next seven weeks it will be an entirely different story as Kobus van der Merwe's side gets set to square up to the big guns - the Bulls, the Sharks and the Lions.

Only Boland might be regarded as a soft touch, but Province would be foolish to see them in this light - particularly in Saturday's derby.

Coach Hawies Fourie's side gave a near full-strength Lions side enough trouble in Wellington earlier in the season to suggest that WP will have to take them deadly seriously this weekend.

At the same time WP do not want to put Boland's semi-amateurs on a pedestal.

Forward coach Gary Gold summed up the challenge facing Province with the after observation ahead of the derby: "We want to play well and win well and we will not be underestimating Boland. Without sounding arrogant or disrespectful to a side who have achieved one helluva milestone by qualifying for the Top Eight, Saturday's match will be their Currie Cup semifinal or final.

"They will get a nice, full crowd in a match that can do their confidence a world of good and we know they will come at us. But at the same time we are looking to kick off our Premier Division campaign on a positive note."

After a two-week layoff only wing Tonderai Chavhanga and flank Gerrie Britz are unlikely to feature for Province on Saturday. But both are expected to be fit to face the Bulls next weekend.