CAPE TOWN – Western Province’s unbeaten run in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge (SRC) is likely to continue on Saturday when they tackle the Border Bulldogs at False Bay Rugby Club (kickoff 3pm).
Province, the defending champions, have won 16 games on the trot and have never lost a match in the competition that began last year.
The Streeptruie, who campaign in the South Section made up of five teams, are 5-0 in wins this season and have amassed 24 points from a possible 25.
The Pumas (North Section) and the Free State XV (Central Section) boast similar returns.
Province beat Border on the road 37-6 in the first round, and they should repeat the feat on the Philipp Herbstein Field.
Border, however, pulled off a shock 29-14 win over the Boland Cavaliers on home turf last time out for the Eastern Cape side’s second triumph of the season, so they may arrive in the Mother City believing they can cause another upset.
But it does seem an unlikely occurrence as the home side has been in fine form as shown by two huge away victories in their last two outings, a 50-3 demolition job over South Western Districts and last weekend’s 75-28 pasting of the EP Kings.
“We want to keep our winning streak going,” said Province coach John Dobson, “but we know we are in for a game with an opponent armed with a big, heavy pack.
“We played them last time in tough conditions in the wind and managed to bag a bonus-point win, but now it will be different conditions with a heavy field expected to make for a tight affair.
“The target for us is a full house of five points to strengthen our claims for a home quarter-final once the round-robin phase is completed.
“There’s some pleasing changes, with Craig Barry back at fullback and Scarra Ntubeni in the team at hooker, as well as another big name player in Jaco Coetzee starting at the back of the scrum,” continued Dobson.
“There are players who have excelled but missed out on selection, which is tough, but competition for places is always a good thing as we head towards the knockout rounds.
“Players to watch are Ernst van Rhyn (lock), the former SA U20 captain, who is just an outstanding player with a massive work-rate and physicality, and then Luke Stringer who has captained the team by example and is a very bright kid who can play at six or seven.
“Add Stormers loose forward Coetzee to the list as well as Chris Massyn, who won the Varsity Cup with Tukkies and then Maties this year, as a sign of how competitive it is for places among the loose forwards.
“And the progress of Dan du Plessis at inside centre has been pleasing.”
Western Province: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Dan Kriel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Chris Massyn, 6 Luke Stringer (captain), 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Bench: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Herschel Jantjies, 21 Tristan Leyds, 22 Cornel Smit.