CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson is expecting a “different threat” from the “clever” Sharks ahead of Saturday's Currie Cup clash at Newlands (3pm kickoff).
Province will host the Sharks after bagging an impressive 39-3 victory over the Golden Lions at Newlands last week, while they also secured a win against the Blue Bulls the week before.
So the Cape side can feel confident about how they kept two teams that like at bay over the last two weeks. But that is exactly what Dobson believes makes Saturday's fixture a tough one - the fact that the Sharks will bring a direct game with physical presence, solid defence and a good kicking game to Cape Town.
“We know this week is going to be different to the last two games - the Bulls have changed how they play so they are quite similar to the Lions,” Dobson said.
“We expect this to be more physical, flatter, more around the gain line, so we’ll be tested defensively, whereas the Lions and the Bulls are trying to get more width and more tempo.
“The Sharks are a more traditional South African team in terms of the gain line and the kicking game, so that’s a different threat. We’ll be tested defensively in terms of their directness on the gain line because when they get momentum, they’re very dangerous.
“I also think they’re very clever on their rugby on the field, whereas the Bulls and the Lions are more cavalier about playing in their half, so we know there’s a kicking threat and a gain line threat coming.”
Two elements that will certainly feature for WP tomorrow are flyhalf Robert du Preez and Sevens man Ruhan Nel.
Nel will start at left wing in the place of Dillyn Leyds, who moves to fullback in the absence of injured SP Marais, while Du Preez will provide flyhalf cover for Damian Willemse.
Dobson explained that Nel is an attractive choice given the Sharks’ kicking game.
“Ruhan did a good job in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge He’s played at fullback quite a bit before and we’re expecting quite a big kicking game against the Sharks,” Dobson said.
Western Province Team
15 Dillyn Leyds,14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Ruhan Nel, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Bench: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Eddie Zandberg, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Dan Kriel.