Western Province covering all their bases for Pumas clash
CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says that while they aren't exactly sure what kind of game to expect the Pumas to bring to Newlands tonight (kick-off 7pm), they have put plans in place to make sure they can handle any pressure the Pumas might put them under where territory is concerned.
The last time these two sides met was in Nelspruit during Super Rugby Unlocked in Round Three, a game in which the hosts looked like certain victors...until about the 60th minute or so, that is.
Province ran in some quick tries in 18 minutes to fight back and snatch the game away from the Pumas, who had controlled the territory game well with Devon Williams' boot playing a big role at Mbombela.
This week, though, Williams – who started at flyhalf last week - is on the bench, with 19-year-old Tiaan Botes named at No 10.
Pumas mentor Jimmy Stonehouse has made seven changes to his starting line-up, with both his halfbacks, scrumhalf Ginter Smuts and Williams, moving to the bench. They are replaced by Botes, who will be making his Currie Cup debut, and Chriswill September.
Winning the territory game has been a big focus for Dobson since rugby returned locally and, recapping what happened in Nelspruit, it seems like it is again a focus heading into the crunch match.
“Last time, they really hurt us with their kicking game, I think we lost that battle,” Dobson said of the last time the two sides met.
“Since then, they have been quite dynamic with the way they run, so we are not sure what they are going to come at us with but, because of the success they had last time, we are preparing ourselves for them to really put some pressure on us with the territory game.
“We have worked pretty hard on some plans for that.”
While the Pumas have only recorded two wins in the eight games they've played (during Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup), they are a tough team, especially when playing at home.
Dobson of course knows this all too well, and recalled some of the recent ‘bigger' teams the Pumas gave a hard time.
“They are a really resilient team – other than that first half against the Cheetahs in the first round of Super Rugby Unlocked, they have stayed in many, many fights, notable at Loftus a couple of weeks ago.”
For Province, this game should be seen as a must-win to keep their hopes of hosting a home semi-final alive.
Their remaining fixtures are against Griquas, the Cheetahs, and the Sharks. Team for Newlands:
Western Province team:
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Tristan Leyds, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Johan du Toit, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Kade Wolhuter, 23 Dan du Plessis, 24 Kwenzo Blose, 25 Marcel Theunissen, 26 Sihle Njezula.