Province brace for aerial bombardment

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 11:05
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NEWS: Western Province are bracing themselves for an aerial bombardment when the travel to Pretoria to take on the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup Premier Division semifinal.

Province head coach John Dobson admitted that his team has struggled a bit in dealing with "contestable" kicks this season and he believes his counterpart, Blue Bulls head coach Nollis Marais, will try and expose their vulnerabilities in that facet of the game.

"We are expecting it to rain contestables up there and we have been working on it for two weeks," Dobson told reporters at the team's base in Bellville.

"We have worked on the skill of catching and we worked how we are going to play off it, so that has probably been one of our major focusses."

Dobson added: "We know where we have fallen short this season and we are aware that the high ball is an issue for us. 

"It will only be natural given the size of that [Blue Bulls] team, and it is basically a Super Rugby pack of forwards, that are going to try and beat us physically. 

"I am not saying that they are going to revert to the laager, but I do expect contestables and a physical approach."

Province suffered a 26-45 defeat when they visited Loftus Versfeld in Round One of the tournament and Dobson believes that the home side will be favourites once again.

"I will have to be quite a good salesman to market us as favourites," said Dobson.

"I have seen the odds and we have been written off everywhere for this game already. There is no pressure on us - nobody expects us to win. 

"They [Blue Bulls] are playing in front of their home crowd. They are playing with the favourites tag. We beat them at the end of Super Rugby and in the [Currie Cup] Qualifiers, so there will be a lot of pressure on them to beat us."

Meanwhile, Dobson revealed that 23-man squads are set to be introduced for the play-offs, which will reduce the possibility of uncontested scrums in a match. 

"It makes sense from a game presentation point of view that we don't have manipulation and uncontested scrums, but also for a team like us playing up at altitude, it also helps us with fresh legs," he said.


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Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
Golden Lions 8 5 0 3 26
Sharks 8 5 0 3 25
Griquas 8 4 0 4 21
Boland 8 2 0 6 11
Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
EP Kings 8 0 0 8 1