CAPE TOWN - As the last round of Currie Cup action approaches, it’s not hard to guess who the favourites will be in the last match of the weekend between the Blue Bulls and Western Province.
The Capetonians have been in hot form this season and top the log after five bonus-point wins, while the Bulls have bagged three Ws. But regardless of the defending champions’ favourites tag, the north-south derby can always be expected to be a good one. So, we look at five battles that can tip the scales in Pretoria.
Doing the fixing in broken play
There’s no introduction needed when it comes to Province’s potency in broken play and on the counter-attack. With weapons like Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Damian Willemse and Ruhan Nel, to name a few, at their disposal, how the Bulls scramble to stop those spells is going to be crucial. The same goes for the visitors, of course, but if John Dobson’s side’s productions in this regard are anything to go by, it’s safe to say that it’s the Bulls who are going to have to be extra cautious.
Supremacy in the shove
Getting ascendancy at scrum time and acing your lineout are two factors that will always be big ones. Add in there its role when it comes to launching attacking platforms - especially considering that these are two teams who like to let the ball do the work - and that importance gets bumped up times 10. And in the areas where the ball won’t be doing most of the work - particularly when it comes to the breakdown and maul defence, especially - well, those are battles that you almost always have to win anyway if you don’t want to have to work too much harder otherwise.
Going the distance
Performing for the full 80 is always important, and this fixture will be no different. Following their 38-12 win over Griquas earlier this season, Dobson said that the victory felt like a loss, thanks to a first-half attacking masterclass that turned into an ill-disciplined second 40. So it’s probably a situation WP will want to sidestep at Loftus. On the other hand, the Bulls will also know how tough it is to throw a spanner in WP’s works (or wheels) once they shift into a higher gear and hit momentum. So a strong start will be just as vital as a sustained effort for both sides.
Make sure the ball goes to hand
Actual passes going to hand will certainly aid either team’s cause after kickoff on Saturday, but keeping the errors to a minimum (on attack and defence) in general is going to be right up there when it comes to matchday priorities ... underlined and in bold. Retrieve those kick-offs. Don’t slip off tackles. Find your man on attack. Lamenting all those points left out there after a game is nobody’s favourite past time, and given the stage of the competition, it’ll be even more intolerable.
The highlight of WP’s 2018 Currie Cup season has certainly been their attack and the superb tries they’ve been able to - sometimes seemingly effortlessly - run in. And although defence probably becomes an afterthought if you think back to some of the Cape side’s visits to the chalk, neither one of the rivals can afford to not step up in that department this weekend.