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CAPE TOWN – Western Province know that they cannot afford to “run away” from the physical onslaught that the Blue Bulls will look to impose on them in Friday’s Currie Cup semi-final, but that doesn’t mean that they will move away from their attacking approach at Loftus.
While Jake White’s team have also scored some sparkling tries over the last 12 months, their forwards provided a solid platform in the scrums, lineouts and mauls.
Even with regular hooker Johan Grobbelaar now with the Springboks on tour in Australia, youngster Jan-Hendrik Wessels stepped in at No 2 and produced a man-of-the-match display in last week’s win over the Free State Cheetahs.
Province, though, showed some magic with ball-in-hand in their must-win bonus-point triumph over the Sharks in Durban last weekend, and are confident that they should continue with such a daring approach against the defending champions in Pretoria.
There is some hope of the WP pack being boosted by lock Salmaan Moerat as well for the Loftus showdown, after he returned to training following a serious neck injury that required surgery – although they will make a call on star No 8 Evan Roos later in the week due to his “dead leg” that saw him miss the Griquas and Sharks encounters.
“We know that’s the Bulls’ strength – that’s the way they like to play. So, we have to step up … there’s no ways you can run away from it,” backline coach Dawie Snyman said.
“They will want to get stuck into our pack, and we’ll be up for the challenge. Even against the Sharks, we were the lighter, smaller pack, but the aggression and intensity we showed were good signs. But there is definitely a physical challenge waiting for us at Loftus, and we will be up for it.
“It has been quite a long road for Salmaan with his injury, and it’s great to have him back. He brings a lot of intensity to the team, and he’s got high standards. So, even in training, it’s been a few sessions, but you can feel his presence.”
Playoff rugby usually results in teams going the conservative route, but for WP, it’s all about taking on the Bulls defence on Friday.
That is how the got the better of the Sharks at Kings Park, and such an approach is probably their best chance of being successful against the Bulls as well.
“We know what works for us, and we know what gives us energy. The Sharks was also a playoff game for us, and we know how we can put teams under pressure, and we will stick to our style. We won’t focus too much on the Bulls – it’s more what we can do to put them under pressure,” Snyman said.
“We’ve been really working hard to get that flow in our game. It will be in different areas – we won’t always attack exactly the same. We will look at areas where defences might be weak.
“But it suits our style, and I think it suits this union that wants to see us playing exciting rugby – but also be effective.
“Sometimes we are going to run it, and sometimes we will kick it. But to get that balance right, and that’s probably what we got right against the Lions at Newlands and the Sharks this weekend – to keep the defence guessing, because if you become too predictable, you are also not going to get that flow in your attack.”