Dobson: Bulls worthy finalists

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 09:55
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REACTION: Western Province coach John Dobson believes that the Bulls are deserving of their place in the 2016 Currie Cup Final.

The Bulls advanced to a first Currie Cup Final since last winning the tournament in 2009, after beating Western Province 36-30 in an action-packed semifinal in Pretoria on Saturday.

The game was in the balance with Western Province leading 30-29 up until the 78th minute, before Bulls replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl dotted down for the match-winning try.

Speaking to reporters at the post-match press conference in Pretoria on Saturday, Dobson said that he was proud of his team's efforts throughout the 80 minutes. However, he admitted that the Bulls were the better team on the night.

"We were proud of them [Western Province]," said Dobson. "They put a lot into that game and we came here to win it, so obviously a lot of disappointment.

"we were written off before, so I'm pleased with the way we performed and having said that I think the Bulls were excellent. They were probably deserved winners of the game if you look at it from overall," 

The last time Western Province played the Bulls, prior to Saturday's Currie Cup semifinal defeat, was in the opening game of the Currie Cup tournament back in August and on that occasion, Western Province were outscored by six tries to four en route to a 26-45 defeat in Pretoria.

Looking back at his team's progress throughout the season, Dobson added that he was proud of the way his team lifted their game after heavy defeats against both the Bulls and the Lions during the round-robin phase of the competition.

"It's been a tough campaign for lots of reasons, but a lot of people didn't even think we would make a semi and then we ended up third and we came very close to getting in the Final - within two minutes, so I think I am satisfied. 

"Two of the games we lost, against the Lions [32-58 defeat in Johannesburg in September] and the Bulls [in August] in the first round, we were blown away by half-time and couldn't handle the tempo," said Dobson.

Dobson further added that Western Province rugby is heading in the right direction, with plenty of talent coming through the ranks throughout this year's Currie Cup campaign. 

"A lot of new guys have come through in the Currie Cup, which all goes well for next season - Super Rugby and Currie Cup next year - and we learnt a lot of lessons," explained Dobson.

The Bulls will travel to Bloemfontein to play the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup Final next weekend.

The Cheetahs secured themselves a home final courtesy of a 55-17 victory over the Golden Lions in the first Currie Cup semifinal in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Western Province's most recent match against the Free State Cheetahs was during the Currie Cup regular season back in August and on that occasion, the Cheetahs walked away with a 32-25 victory over Western Province in Cape Town.

Having experienced playing against both the Bulls and the Cheetahs during this year's tournament, Dobson believes that the Final will be a closely fought battle, with the Bulls physicality and ball carriers coming up against the rush defence of the Cheetahs.

"It's going to be tough. The team [Bulls] are playing with so much belief. If those carries get momentum, the sheer physicality of the Bulls will be hard for the Cheetahs

"If the Cheetahs give the Bulls some momentum the Bulls will be very hard to beat, any team will struggle to beat them. But Free State, they've got a lot of line speed, so the Bulls will have to make plans around that, but it's a final with two teams playing great rugby," said Dobson. 

By Josh Isaacson

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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
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