The traditional North-South derby always promises to be a treat - even with the Blue Bulls having practically no chance of making the Currie Cup play-offs, the mere fact that they’ll be going up against their old foes at Loftus Versfeld should be enough to make you want to switch on your TV (if you won’t be at Loftus, of course).
So, as John Dobson’s men aim to secure that home semi-final, I look at what I believe Province need to do, or not do, to bag their second consecutive win over the Bulls this season and move closer to a knockout fixture in Cape Town.
1. Let go of the ill-discipline
Ill-discipline has put Province in a few bad situations this season, and I don’t think I need to recap what happened when they made themselves guilty of poor discipline in any form, whether it was losing players to yellow cards, handling errors that saw them coughing up precious possession, not rolling releasing after the tackle or any other unnecessary errors that have resulted in them losing the ball in opposition 22 after stringing impressive attacking patterns together. Point is, there can be none of that today - they need to convert their possession and opportunities into points.
2. More scrum dominance
The scrum has certainly been Province’s most consistently-performing area this season, and it should be no different today.
They’ve scored some great set-piece tries, and it will be especially important to lay that attacking platform against a team who is just as keen on running the ball. Also, the fact that Wilco Louw is among the reserves will allow WP to add some serious impact off the bench later in the game and produce a sustained scrummaging effort.
3. Get the tactical advantage
In recent weeks, Province have at times struggled with their tactical kicking, and although young Damian Willemse is an absolute gem when it comes to attack and is just as solid on defence, he can perhaps work on his tactical game a bit more. Dobson has opted to go with Robert du Preez at flyhalf for the trip to Pretoria, as the WP mentor has feels that Du Preez’s game management and organisation will come in handy in this “important game”. Anyway, if WP can nail this area this afternoon, it will be great to see what more they can dish up at Loftus.
4. Make use of that counter-attacking know-how
WP have been dangerous on the counter-attack and in broken play this season, and guys like Seabelo Senatla, Huw Jones, EW Viljoen, Werner Kok and Willemse have wreaked all kinds of havoc against their opposition. So today, they should just continue that and, needless to say, it will be great to see what Willemse can do with all that space at the back.
5. Just play
Province have made a lot of progress with their attacking game this year, so I hope that we see them do a lot of that and less defending (as has been the case a few times this Currie Cup season - when Province have made a ridiculous number of tackles, like against the Sharks and the Golden Lions). The bottom line is they should just play...
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Ulrich Beyers
WP: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Werner Kok, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (capt), 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Kick-off: 2.30 pm