Bulls to test Western Province defensive resolve

Western Province may be the only unbeaten team in the Currie Cup Premier division, but that has been down to their granite defence.

How fiery their will is to win will be tested by a desperate Blue Bulls outfit at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

In all of their games, Allister Coetzee’s men have taken big first-half leads, only to end up scrapping at the end of the game.

It is a formula they used well in Super Rugby, even though there were teams who had enough attacking quality to wear them down.

Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar believes it is due reward for their ability to close out matches.

“What makes them a quality side is that even if they are under the perception that they’re a team that goes to sleep in the last 20 minutes, they still win those games,” Pienaar said.

“They are definitely the best defensive side in the competition and they still have the composure to see a game through in the last 20 minutes. The biggest thing for us is to put up 80 minutes of quality rugby together and not wait for the last quarter and come away with the win.”

Pienaar made three changes for the second north-south derby of the year, which marks the second round of the Currie Cup.

Ulrich Beyers will start after missing the 26-10 win over the Cheetahs while Rudy Paige gets an opportunity to start at scrum half with Ruan Snyman having already left for Racing Metro in France.

Young loose forward Jacques du Plessis starts ahead of Jacques Engelbrecht.

While the Currie Cup may not be the headline act of the South African Rugby season, the importance of the north-south derby occasion has not been lost on Bulls captain Jono Ross, who regards the fixture as an important one on the South African rugby calendar.

“Every week there is a tough game and there is no easy game at any stage. We can understand the history that has gone on before us and this has always been a massive derby, but you have to get yourself up for every game in this Currie Cup. Every week you have to be at your best,” said Ross.

Kickoff is at 5.05pm.


Blue Bulls:

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 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Clayton Blommetjies

Western 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

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