CAPE TOWN – Western Province don’t need to do a lot to hold onto their No 1 spot on the Currie Cup log.
The defending champions are currently four points clear of the Sharks in second spot, and with one game to go before they head into the semi-finals, John Dobson’s men need only one point to keep the Sharks’ hands off of top spot (even if they lose against the Blue Bulls, the Sharks will need a bonus-point win to move past them).
Province will travel to Pretoria to face the Blue Bulls - who occupy third place - in their final round-robin fixture on Saturday (5.15pm kickoff). It’s hard to imagine any other team but WP lifting the Currie Cup this season.
They’ve been completely destructive in all five of their games, and they’ve put 50 points on their opposition in three of those outings (against the Pumas, Golden Lions and Sharks), while they kept the Free State Cheetahs scoreless in testing conditions at Newlands in their opener (32-0).
Against Griquas - although it was probably WP’s least eye-catching scoreline this season (38-12) - the Cape side still ran in six tries to claim the bonus-point win in a match that Dobson said felt like a loss as they followed up a brilliant first-half with a mostly defensive, error-ridden second stanza.
The Sharks were the one team that were expected to pose a real challenge for WP, but the way Province went about chucking them aside in the 50-28 romp in last month’s coastal derby has put an “unstoppable” tag on the defending champions.
There’s obviously not much that WP have done wrong until now, and they can also expect to benefit from the addition of the likes of Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Damian Willemse, who haven’t racked up too much game time while on Springbok duty, while a player like Damian de Allende could also come into the mix.
The current WP side (without their Boks) have of course built incredible momentum over the last few weeks, but seeing that the Boks’ fringe players will have this weekend to settle in before they head into the semi-finals, the add-ons can hardly be seen as a disruption in terms of continuity. After all, they are Bok players, and they should add even more firepower going into the semis. Sure, WP won’t be the only team welcoming back international personnel, but they sure have the most to gain from it.
And that, in addition to what we’ve seen from the blue and white hoops this season, will make WP an even bigger rugby mountain to move en route to the final.