CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says there is a “desperation to correct the wrongs of last week” against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday (kick-off 3 pm).
At Ellis Park last week, WP were in command for most of the Currie Cup match against the Golden Lions, but they lost control of the contest in the last quarter and lost yet another away match - with their only successful trip coming in Pretoria against the Blue Bulls a few weeks ago.
And now, as they prepare to go all out to secure not only a win over the Sharks but a home semi-final as well, Dobson hopes that his team manage to produce a sustained performance.
“Our away results have been dreadful, except for our first game against the Cheetahs, every game that we’ve lost we had at least a 10-point lead in at some stage. It’s not our conditioning. It seems that we lack the killer instinct to finish.,” Dobson said.
“So there is a concern, if it has something to do with altitude, this is the first away game at sea level, so we haven’t got that excuse. There’s a desperation to correct the wrongs of last week”
Province have been boosted by the return of Springboks Dillyn Leyds and Wilco Louw - who both featured against the All Blacks at Newlands last week - and Dobson said that Louw, a powerful scrummager, has a lot more “swagger” after getting a taste of international rugby.
“I’d be even more nervous if he (Louw) wasn’t around. I thought he was outstanding for the Springboks last week. Him versus Thomas du Toit is going to be a great battle. He described that as the best day of his life.”
And while Louw will bolster Province’s front row, Leyds will do the same for the already-fine backline. Leyds will start on the wing in Durban, while Damian Willemse occupies the Bok’s regular fullback spot.
In other changes to the back six, Sevens recruit Ruhan Nel will start at inside centre while Huw Jones shifts to No 13.
When asked about the selection of his backline, Dobson said: “EW (Viljoen) has played every Super Rugby game and all the Currie Cup games except for the first one. He’s got a couple of niggles.
“Ruhan Nel played very well at 12 in the SuperSport (Rugby) Challenge, and we also want to give Huw Jones more space to attack.
Dobson also explained that given the Sharks’ style of play and the unfavourable weather conditions they are expecting, having Robert du Preez at flyhalf again and both Damian Willemse and Leyds out wide would be a plan to keep the Sharks’ kicking game in check.
“The Sharks are a very territory-based team, very good kicking game, and we felt that to have two fullbacks at the back is a good thing.
“Dillyn can help a lot with the kicking game. He’s a fullback and he must return there, but for this game...the field is going to be very heavy, so the more guys we have that are comfortable with a kicking game, the better.
“Obviously Damian is the future, but we’ve got ourselves into a position where we have to play match for match, horses for courses. So that’s why we’ve gone with Rob."
Sharks team: 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 S’bu Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Tristan Blewett, 22 Kobus van Wyk.
Western Province team: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Ruhan Nel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Werner Kok, 22 EW Viljoen.