Western Province headed for Oudtshoorn today by bus to take on SWD Eagles in a SuperSport Rugby Challenge clash at the Bridgeton Sports Grounds on Sunday (3pm kickoff).
And coach John Dobson is confident his charges, who have already qualified for the quarter-finals, will deliver another winning performance.
“We’re the only unbeaten team in the competition heading into the final round of pool matches,” said Dobson. “The boys have played some excellent rugby and have been rewarded with seven wins and 34 points from a possible 35. Now for number eight.
“I hear talk of SWD feeling bullish about their chances of upstaging us on their home turf, so let’s see what they bring to the table.
“We drilled them good and solid (45-11) first time round, and I see no reason why we can’t repeat the feat.
“And there is a lot riding on the outcome from our side; we need just one point to end this phase of the competition as the team with the most log points. We do that and we have home ground advantage for all our knockout games,” added the coach.
SWD believe they have spotted a weakness in Province’s DNA and will be out to exploit that by turning their bigger opponents at every turn.
Though that will be easier said than done, especially from a side that have lost all seven matches and are on a 20-game losing streak, stretching back to last year’s now-defunct Vodacom Cup.
That perceived weakness from the hosts’ side centres on Province’s defence, an area that actually has been a strength when you factor in that WP have conceded the least tries (17) among the 15 competing teams.
“We pride ourselves on our defensive structures and equally so on attack,” said Dobson. “The search for the perfect balance is a constant work in progress. So is limiting silly errors that creep in taking the ball through the phases.
“And then the players know they have to work really hard to stay in the mix, such is the depth and rivalry in the squad for places. There are big games to come, and who will be called up depends on which players deliver on a consistent basis.
“It makes my job that much more challenging and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
In changes from the last game won against Boland, Caylib Oosthuizen, Chad Solomon, Godlen Masimla, Kurt Coleman, Khanyo Ngucana and Michael Hazner are all injured.
Springbok Bjorn Basson is back at left wing, while Dan du Plessis is at inside centre.
Western Province Team
15 Craig Barry, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Nyasha Tarusenga, 6 Eital Bredenkamp (captain), 5 Eddie Zandberg, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Frans van Wyk, Dean Muir, 1 Michael Kumburai.
Bench: 16 Percy Mngadi, 17 Ash Wells, 18 Luke Stringer, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Paul de Wet, 21 Errol Jaggers, 22 Dan Kriel.