Bulls v Western Province - teams and predictions
CURRIE CUP SEMIFINAL: “We will show up with some attitude. We are definitely not just going to roll over!”
That, in a nutshell, is the warning from the underdog Western Province team ahead of their trip to Loftus Versfeld and a showdown with the defending-champion Bulls.
Following their stirring performance against the Sharks last week – which saw them earn a bonus-point win and sneak into the play-offs – WP captain Ernst van Rhyn said the importance is to back that up with a similar showing in Pretoria.
Van Rhyn is adamant his team, despite their underdog status, are going to “fight to the end” in the hope of causing an upset and repeat the heroics of 2017 – when they came from nowhere to win the title.
The Bulls will look to turn back the clock almost two decades to the last time they won the Currie Cup back-to-back – from 2002 to 2004.
The only match the Bulls have lost at Loftus Versfeld since the arrival of Jake White as Director of Rugby last year was, ironically, against Province.
However, the Bulls – with 30-odd players having travelled to Italy for the Rainbow Cup Final – suffered an embarrassing 24-48 loss in the opening round of the Currie Cup, fielding a mainly club team.
Province coach John Dobson readily admitted they won’t have the same luxury this time around.
The Bulls got their own back when they recorded a convincing 34-13 victory over WP at Newlands in the return match – fielding their frontline selection.
That is the threat Province faces at Loftus on Friday.
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“It is certainly not the same team,” Dobson said about their visit to Pretoria in June.
“They are a really big, really physical team,” the WP coach added.
“They are very direct and big runners off No.9, with one of the best flyhalves in the world in [Johan] Goosen.”
Dobson readily embraced the underdog tag against the big, mauling pack of forwards from Pretoria.
“We are going to have to man up,” he said of the battle up front.
The WP captain, Van Rhyn, said his team is ready to reproduce the form that saw them upstage the second-placed Sharks in Durban last week.
“It is one thing doing with your backs against the wall,” he said, adding: “We want to show the same desire and intensity.
“We are excited to take this the challenge head-on – like we did last week.”
Bulls coach Jake White admitted that he expected another emotion-charged performance from the visitors, much like they produced last week.
He said the hosts are not going to change their approach, just because it is the play-offs – having scored a tournament-high 46 tries in 10 games.
“You trust the players on the field to get a feel for what is needed – be that going for posts and taking three points or going for the corner and set up a maul,” White said.
Having experienced his share of play-offs over the years – including a World Cup Final – White said the key is to trust the players.
“You can’t over coach now,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “You can’t coach things now you should have done in the beginning of the season.
“I trust what we have done. I trust the way we prepared. I trust the combinations we played throughout the season.
“Players pick that up. If they see that the coaching staff and the people around the team are confident, comfortable and relaxed, they also relax.
“There is nothing more we can do between now and tomorrow [Friday] that could take care of the result.
“I have to trust the fact that each player does what he has to do.
“I am convinced, if that is the case, we will be good enough to win.”
2016: Bulls won 45-26, Pretoria
2016: Bulls won 36-30, Pretoria
2017: WP won 45-34, Cape Town
2017: WP won 46-45, Pretoria
2018: WP won 34-7, Pretoria
2018: WP won 35-32, Cape Town
2019: WP won 20-5, Cape Town
2020: Bulls won 22-20, Cape Town
2021: WP won 48-24, Pretoria
2021: Bulls won 34-13, Cape Town
@rugby365com: Bulls by 16 points
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements – from: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stravino Jacobs, 24 Joe van Zyl, 25 Reinhardt Ludwig, 26 Jaco Labuschagne, 27 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 28 Stedman Gans.
Western Province: 15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Marcel Theunissen, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Johan du Toit, 4 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Leon Lyons.
Replacements – from: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Rikus Pretorius, 23 Tristan Leyds, 24 Warrick Gelant.
Date: Friday, September 3
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Nice clear skies with a high of 27°C and low of 12°C
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Quinton Immelman