Here’s how Western Province can beat the Bulls
CAPE TOWN - The north-south derby is always one of the most anticipated fixtures on the domestic calendar, so not much hype needs to be built up around Western Province’s meeting with the Blue Bulls on Saturday, it comes naturally.
But this weekend will be even bigger seeing as it could be the last time these two teams face each other at Newlands as the Cape side will call Cape Town Stadium home following the conclusion of the Currie Cup on 23 January. With the Bulls being at the summit of the log and four points ahead of Province, it will also be a big one as this game’s outcome will be significant in how the top of the Currie Cup standings play out.
So, here are four ways WP can bag a win and get back at the Bulls for that unpleasant experience in Pretoria.
Own the gain-line battle
The Bulls’ backs wreaked havoc during Super Rugby Unlocked, and the way in which they blended their forward power and backline potency has been one of their finest productions under White.
Dominating the gainline, hitting the Bulls’ ball-carriers back and keeping their loosies in check will go a long way in stopping them from getting the ball away to their pouncers out wide. And even if the Bulls manage that...
WP should make sure of those first-time tackles
This is kind of a continuation of the first point. While at times during the domestic season coach John Dobson’s players had a few issues with defence, they were confident that they could get it right, and they did, which is great, because it will be crucial against the visitors. They can’t afford to let the Bulls run loose, especially with those seemingly always-there support runners, and the more they can halt their strides on attack, the better (and if they can hit them high enough to cut off the offloading option, even better).
WP should use their own double-digit weapons
When the Stormers started creating opportunities, they did it well, even though there were a couple of times where they left a few points out there (but, as Dobson said after the Griquas game, the fact that they created those opportunities after struggling to do so early in the competition was a positive). When they started getting fluidity on attack and bringing their backs into the game more, they shone, and while the Bulls backs need to be watched (especially those Sevens players), WP have all the ammo at the back to cause just as much damage as the Bulls can.
Beat the Bulls at their “traditional strengths”
What can I say ... WP are going to have to be effective and clean at the scrum and lineout, and they certainly have the manpower to get the upper hand at these contests. When it comes to tactical kicking, it would be a major positive if Damian Willemse builds on the solid display he put up in that regard towards the end of Super Rugby Unlocked come Saturday.