WP scrum in spotlight at Loftus
Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Western Province will travel to Pretoria for their Currie Cup clash with the Blue Bulls looking for more than just the win that will keep them in the pound seats in the battle for log supremacy, reports the supersport.com website
The match, and the opponents, will also provide WP with a way to measure just how far they have progressed in the key areas that let them down the last time they played the Bulls.
That was in the opening Currie Cup match at Newlands, a game where WP started as overwhelming favourites and yet were fortunate in the end to get away with a draw as visiting flyhalf Tony Jantjies
missed what could have been a winning conversion in the final minute.
There were a lot of theories afterwards on what went wrong for WP that day. One that had primacy within the camp was that they lost focus in the second half when they were ahead, and also probably went into the game with the wrong mindset.
After all, a full strength Bulls Super Rugby team, much stronger than the no-name brand Bulls side that started the Currie Cup, had been easily seen off at the same venue just a few weeks previously.
But it was the scrum, the area that had been a strength for the Stormers against the Bulls in the Super Rugby game, that effectively proved WP’s undoing on that clear late Cape winter day in August.
It was of course the first match where WP had been exposed to the new scrum engagement laws, and skipper Deon Fourie promised afterwards that the scrumming wouldn’t be a concern going forward.
That prophecy has proved correct, with the WP scrum producing a dominating performance that laid the platform for a wet weather win over the Free State Cheetahs seven days later.
They may have struggled a bit at times against Griquas in Kimberley, where it appeared there were problems with the officiating of the referee, but the other two games - against the Golden Lions and the Sharks - saw further strong scrumming performances.
But the memory of the way the scrum fell apart last time against the Bulls has not left WP coach Allister Coetzee
, and while the destruction of the Sharks scrum at Newlands last week has inspired confidence, the scrum is receiving special focus in the build-up to Loftus.
“We all know how strong the Bulls scrum is, even in the games they have lost that aspect of their game has been strong, and they have a fantastic set-piece all-round,” said Coetzee.
“We know we will have our work cut out against them. We will need to be even more accurate than we have been, and all eight forwards will have to work together. When that happens, that is when we scrum well as a pack. No-one should underestimate the value of Scarra Ntubeni as a scrummaging hooker.
“They will also put us under pressure at lineout time, as they did in the first round game. We know they will have momentum and a lot of confidence after winning so well against the Cheetahs. They are strong at ball carrying through their big forwards and that is what we need to negate.”
Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.
15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet
, 13 Ulrich Beyers
, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige
, 8 Jono Ross
(captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg
, 5 Grant Hattingh
, 4 Paul Willemse
, 3 Frik Kirsten
, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku
, 17 Dean Greyling
, 18 David Bullbring
, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht
, 20 21 Lohan Jacobs, 22 Waylon Murray
, 23 Clayton BlommetjiesWestern Province:
15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Michael Rhodes
, 6. Rynhardt Elstadt 5. De Kock Steenkamp (captain), 4. Taz Fuzani, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Brok Harris
, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Rohan Kitshoff, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Gary van Aswegen, 22. Michael van der Spuy