WP brace for Pumas' powerful pack

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 08:40

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Western Province are wary of the threat the Pumas pose at the breakdown ahead of the crucial Currie Cup clash in Nelspruit.

The Pumas' narrow 25-27 home defeat against the table-topping Sharks is a true testament of how difficult it is to head to Nelspruit and pick up a win.

Western Province are currently third in the Currie Cup standings, while the Pumas occupy fifth with 18 points.

Province's backline has been in stellar form, especially with the addition of Craig Barry at fullback, the likes BlitzBoks superstars Ruhan Nel and fit-again Seabelo Senatla in the starting XV - and the young Damian Willemse has seemed to just morph into an amazing flyhalf with every outing.

However, with every match comes different challenges and Western Province captain Chris van Zyl admits that heading into the Pumas encounters they are wary of the Nelspruit-based side's mauling system and their breakdown threat.

"The Pumas have a really sufficient mauling system and they are a real danger at the breakdown," Van Zyl told reporters.

"Throughout the week we have been working on those two factors. I feel like we have to curb that early in the game to prevent it from becoming a problem as the game progresses," he added.

Meanwhile, head coach John Dobson stated that his decision to pick two props on the bench has little to do with the Pumas' scrum. Instead, the strategic move has more to do with the altitude the Cape Town side is going play at.

"I am not too worried about the Pumas’ scrummaging," Dobson said.

"It's at altitude and we just want to accommodate Jacobus Janse van Rensburg and Alistair Vermaak. I know [20-year-old] Michael Kumbirai is strong enough but to ask him to play his first 80 minutes at altitude is too much for him at tighthead.

"The two props is more about a plan to bring on fresh legs later in the game,"

When asked about the South African Rugby Union's 22-man Currie Cup policy, the coach expressed his concerns.

"I think the Currie Cup should go up to 23-man squad, especially when you consider the player safety aspect and the game's integrity aspect," he explained, adding: “The massive factor is that one of your props has to be a swinger – meaning he has to be able to play tighthead and loosehead.

"For this match, Caylib Oosthuizen is capable of being the swinger, but will cover tighthead while Vermaak is the loosehead,”
"Furthermore, there is also an opportunity for teams to cheat. For example, every team runs the scenario that if you get stuffed up in the scrum teams, just opt for uncontested scrums,"  


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Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26