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Thursday, May 30, 2024

John Dobson hopes Western Province can end ‘tough losses’ against strong Blue Bulls

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Cape Town – The United Rugby Championship quarter-final may be looming large, but John Dobson says that Western Province are looking through a Currie Cup “prism” for Saturday night’s clash against the Blue Bulls at Cape Town Stadium (6.30pm kickoff).

WP and Stormers coach Dobson decided to rest his top players when naming his match-23 on Friday, rather choosing most of the players who have done duty in the Currie Cup this season.

He did call on a few Stormers squad members to bolster the side, though, with Clayton Blommetjies at fullback, Angelo Davids at left wing, and Marcel Theunissen and Willie Engelbrecht in the loose trio.

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But Dobson does not want to think about the Bulls game as a dress-rehearsal for next Saturday’s URC playoff against the Pretoria side at the same venue.

“The latter point (about the Currie Cup) resonates more with me. Our team will be very different next week, in a different competition. This is five versus six in the Currie Cup going into the second round, and it’s a very important game to get into the playoffs. We have taken a couple of tough losses over the last two weeks,” he said yesterday.

“This is our best Currie Cup team, and that is the prism we look through for this, and where the guys in this team are. Once the URC are finished, it could look very different.

“It’s an important Currie Cup game, with five playing six, and we will learn far more tomorrow against a very good Bulls team. We also want to build depth for the URC, and it’s a great experience for the guys tomorrow.

“We are very pleased and very disappointed… Our theme this season was about more the process than outcome – building the depth and giving more opportunities.

“With the URC teams, the two teams to watch out for are the Pumas and the Cheetahs, and it was frustrating that we didn’t win those games.

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“But very pleased with some of the performances, and it wouldn’t have been fair to throw in more URC guys for tomorrow.”

The return of lock Adré Smith from a long-term toe injury comes at just the right time for the Cape outfit, as they will be without the injured Salmaan Moerat and Ernst van Rhyn next week, while Ruben van Heerden is also in doubt for the URC playoff.

Dobson added that wings Leolin Zas and Seabelo Senatla also appear to be on course to return to action next weekend.

But first Province have to take care of business against the Bulls tonight, and in that regard, new captain Jean-Luc du Plessis hopes that his team can hit back from last week’s 25-24 loss to the Pumas.

“Western Province rugby runs deep in the blood with me and my family, and for me to captain this great union, it’s really a great honour for me. It’s something I won’t take lightly, and it’s something I am really looking forward to,” said the flyhalf, who follows in the footsteps of his father Carel by leading WP.

“We’ve had some good performances in the last few games, and we were just not able to get over the line in some of them. That’s maybe part of our growth and development, but at some point, we need to see these types of games through and get the results. Hopefully we can put in a good performance this weekend, with a good blend.”

Teams For Cape Town Stadium

Western Province: 15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Luke Burger 13 Cornel Smit 12 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu 11 Angelo Davids 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis (captain) 9 Godlen Masimla 8 Keke Morabe 7 Marcel Theunissen 6 Willie Engelbrecht 5 Connor Evans 4 Dylan de Leeuw 3 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko 2 Scarra Ntubeni 1 Ali Vermaak.

Bench: 16 André-Hugo Venter 17 Kwenzo Blose 18 Corné Weilbach 19 Gary Porter 20 Adré Smith 21 Junior Pokomela 22 Thomas Bursey 23 Damian Markus.

Blue Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Wandisile Simelane 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 David Kriel 10 Johan Goosen 9 Keagan Johannes 8 WJ Steenkamp 7 Reinhardt Ludwig (captain) 6 Marco van Staden 5 Janko Swanepoel 4 Charlie Ewels 3 Francois Klopper 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.

Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Mornay Smith 19 Ruan Vermaak 20 Cyle Brink 21 Embrose Papier 22 Chris Smith 23 Harold Vorster.


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