CAPE TOWN – Defending SuperSport Rugby Challenge champions Western Province host South Western Districts at Villager Rugby Club today (kickoff 3pm) in the final round of round robin games.
The previous meeting between the two Western Cape sides competing in the South Section was a game that Province coach John Dobson described as unique.
“We won that game (50-3) on about 30 percent possession and 30 percent territory, so it was unusual,” said Dobson. “Craig Barry (fullback) was brilliant that day in Bridgeton. It’s a blow that he’s out, he’s got a small shoulder injury and we don’t want to risk him before the playoffs or for the Stormers.”
Province, who are 17-0-1 (they drew with Boland two weeks ago) for the competition that was launched last year, have targeted maximum points in order to secure the highest possible seeding in the play-offs.
“We want to make sure we face the right opponent in what will be a home quarter-final for us. That could be one of the Golden Lions, the Sharks XV or the Boland Cavaliers from our section, who we owe one after two close shaves (won one, drew one) with our smaller union rivals,” said Dobson.
“But for now our focus is on SWD who are much-improved after an unlucky last season.
“I think arguably we are putting out our most competitive physical pack boosted by the likes of Juarno Augustus who was World Under-20 player in 2017 and is back to full fitness at No8 and Cobus Wiese at flank who makes his first start of the campaign after playing most of the games for the Stormers.
“On a relatively small Brookside field I don’t think it’s going to be a case of us getting round our opponents, everybody is going to try and go through each other, so it’s going to be a very physical clash and SWD have power among their forwards to make a fist of it.”
The Western Province team is:
15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Luke Stringer (captain), 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Marno Redelinghuys, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Dan Kriel.
Mike de Bruyn