CAPE TOWN – Western Province captain Chris van Zyl says their match against the Sharks today – who Van Zyl described as the “most complete outfit” –will give them a good indication of where they are in the Currie Cup competition.
Province will be looking to bag a home win in their last fixture at Newlands, and Van Zyl said that after a few good wins, complacency should be avoided at all costs.
“Our focus is not to get complacent and to stick to what’s worked for us. We’re playing a good brand of rugby, so we must just continue to do that,” Van Zyl said.
Against the Golden Lions last week, WP produced a superb defensive effort, while they were also clinical with ball in hand and made proper use of their opportunities. And the fact they did so with much less possession than the opposition made their 39-3, six tries to zero victory even more impressive.
But in the build-up to the clash against the men from KZN, defence coach Norman Laker said they can’t play a mostly defensive role again, and emphasised the importance of keeping ball in hand and scoring tries.
But Van Zyl also said they put sound plans in place to combat the Sharks’ defensive onslaught.
“We came up with a plan that everyone bought into. We feel that they are the most complete outfit, so it’s going to be a good test for us and a great challenge. I think they will come hard, but I believe we’ve got the skill and the structure to do it,” the skipper said.
“They’re going to come at us and there’s no way of shying away from it, we’ve got to stand up to it. And if we want to win this competition we’re going to have to beat the best, and I think they are the best.”
“I think it’s a good challenge for us and it will definitely tell us where we are in the competition.”
After their defeat to Griquas in the fourth round, coach John Dobson emphasised the importance of winning home games to keep any hopes of a home play-off spot alive, and added that their tough last three games makes success tomorrow even more important.
But Van Zyl believes the team are more focused on overcoming the huge hurdle that is the Sharks, and also to continue the solid work they’ve done on both attack and defence until now.
“All the players are aware of it, and we also know the Sharks are the team to beat. So I think it’s not so much about the play-offs, but rather focusing on the Sharks for now and maintaining our standards on attack and defence.”
Given Province’s solid set-piece performance last week and the Sharks’ traditional prowess in that department, the battles up front will certainly be one to watch - and it’s an area that Province has marked in red for their date with the Sharks.
“Definitely (set-piece has been a focus in terms of preparation this week). They’ve got a great set-piece and Ruan (Botha) operates a good lineout.”
But apart from the set-piece contest, there will also be individuals to watch at Newlands.
Robert du Preez is back to provide flyhalf cover for Damian Willemse on the bench, while Sevens man Ruhan Nel, who will start at left wing in the place of Dillyn Leyds, who moves to fullback in the absence of injured SP Marais, will add some Sevens flair.
For the Sharks, wing Kobus van Wyk returns from a injury and will look to make a statement against his former team.
Teams For Newlands
Western Province: 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 Ntebeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Eddie Zandberg, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Dan Kriel.
Sharks: 15 Inny Radebe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Lukhanyo Am, 11 S’bu Nkosi, 10 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Jean Droste, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Wian Vosloo, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Rhyno Smith, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Referee: Jaco Peyper; Kickoff: 3pm.