Vodacom WP ready for battle of Loftus
Vodacom Western Province captain Anton van Zyl probably summed it up best this week when he said clashes with the Blue Bulls are normally intense, close and physical.
Vodacom Western Province captain Anton van Zyl probably summed it up best this week when he said clashes with the Blue Bulls are normally intense, close and physical.

His side takes on the old enemy in an Absa Currie Cup clash that could determine which of them will host a home semi-final in a few weeks' time. WP are currently second on the points' table, with the Bulls fourth.

A defeat for the Bulls could even mean they fall out of the top four, so close is the race for the third and fourth place. Province have a tough last league game next at Newlands against the Sharks and they know they need a win in at least one of these games to secure the home semi.

Van Zyl played down the significance of the North/South derby this week, preferring to take a business-like view to it. "The most important game in the Currie Cup is this next game, because it's the next game.

"It's not so much who we're playing or where we're playing, it's more because it's towards the business end of the league phase. It's exciting, and it's one that everyone wants to be a part of."

Van Zyl didn't want to make the fact that WP have to take on the Bulls at fortress Loftus where they haven't tasted victory since 2006 an issue. "It's home and away and if you want to win the Cup you have to be able to beat any given team on any given day."

The big lock forward said he was expecting nothing less than a tough, uncompromising game. "This is the Currie Cup at its absolute best, it is strength versus strength, and I expect it to be exactly the same intensity as the last game, if not a little bit higher."

Van Zyl made it clear the result of the previous game, which WP won 15-12 at Newlands, would not have a bearing on this one. "It comes down to the 80 minutes on Saturday.

"I'm not sure whether they'll look at their close games as something positive for them. Our last game was close against them and we came out on top."

Coach Allister Coetzee said by keep a nearly unchanged starting lineup they tried to keep the momentum going. "And by doing that continuity has played a massive role.

"We starting rebuilding the continuity and momentum against the Leopards, Pumas and Griquas and we've taken that into this side - it's good not to have to make many changes.

"It was also vital to give De Kock Steenkamp a start (last weekend) because this Saturday it's really going to be a physical battle against the Bulls, and at Loftus it's about the 22, not the 15."

Coetzee expects his front row to be up to the task, but said it was not only about the battle in the scrum. "You can't control injuries, but you can control your squad and creating depth and giving players opportunities.

"And this is where we get tested, and it's a great opportunity for JD and Brok to be tested up front. We're looking forward to a massive game and a battle and we'll be tested in all departments of the game." .

Teams for Loftus:

Vodacom Western Province: Conrad Jantjes, JJ Engelbrecht, Juan De Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Gio Aplon, Willem De Waal, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Pieter Louw, Anton van Zyl (capt), Adriaan Fondse, Brok Harris, Deon Fourie, JD Moller. REPLACEMENTS: Hanyani Shimange, JC Kritzinger, De Kock Steenkamp, Nick Koster, Conrad Hoffmann, Lionel Cronje, Paul Bosch.

BLUE BULLS: Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Stefan Watermeyer, Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Okkie Kruger, Derick Kuün (capt), Fudge Mabeta, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthrö Steenkamp. REPLACEMENTS: Gary Botha, Rossouw de Klerk, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Dewald Potgieter, Ruan Snyman, Francois Brummer, Stephan Dippenaar.

KICK-OFF: 15:00

REFEREE: Craig Joubert

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