Another cracker of a Currie Cup lies before us this weekend at The Hallowed Grounds Of Newlands as Western Province take on the Cheetahs. After last weeks disappointing result, the locals lads will be looking to set the record straight and squash some of their early season haters. This weekend’s fixtures represents an opportunity to put the negatives behind them and focus on the positives and the task at hand.
Said task is a mammoth one indeed as the Cheetahs pose somewhat more of a danger to an almost unchanged Province team. The Cheetahs are still on a high from their successful – by their standards at least – Super Rugby campaign and have the luxury to pick a side, the majority of which, lead them through that Super Rugby season. I’ll give it to the boys from Bloem, they play attractive rugby. Their willingness to grunt it up the middle in order to create space outside and then have the talent – and speed – to exploit that space is commendable and makes for entertaining rugby. The wonderful thing about the Cheetahs is that they play as if they have nothing to lose which turns their style of play into something which modern-day South African rugby has perhaps lost sight of: Bonus point rugby.
Western Province have been catching flack from all angles regarding their defensive mindset and the impact that has had on the style of rugby which The Hallowed Grounds of Newlands was once renowned for. Tries are not a common occurrence and unlike their opponents this weekend, four-try bonus points are as likely as Tony Yengeni driving home sober. In all honesty their first half performance last week showed that the players are looking to cross the white wash, which makes their second half showing that much more frustrating. I suppose the best explanation can be found in the ‘old habits die hard’ saying. What is certainly in the local lad’s favour is that they have an almost unchanged team of players for the weekend who too, lead them through their Super Rugby campaign. I’m sure that the return of Schalk Burger to training this week will give the guys added gees.
The Cheetahs pose a serious threat to Western Province this weekend. They are more experienced than the Bulls team who rocked up last weekend and for some reason have found themselves on the right side of the score at The Hallowed Grounds of Newlands one to many times in recent years to the extent where they no longer fear playing at the historic venue in front of the faithful. This in itself should be motivation enough for Province to get their act together. They need to start building their home stadium into a fortress where away teams struggle to pick up anything. No tries, no penalties, no bonus points and no victories. In any tournament around the world, winning your home games is key to any successful team. Period.
So what can we expect this weekend? Without doubt the battle up front is where this contest will be won or lost – as it is with any rugby game for that matter. Both teams sport a decent selection of front row grunts, hulking slotte and big-hitting loosies who don’t shy away from the physical stuff and whoever gains the ascendancy in this area of the game first and makes it count could find their post match beers tasting that much sweeter. Whether we’ll see tries depends on the weather. By all accounts the weather is going to play its part and open up, so let’s hold thumbs. Match kicks off on Saturday at 19h15
Your Western Province team for this weekends match:
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Pat Howard, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Ryan Nell.