Dob­son’s un­der­dogs not play­ing for fear of fail­ure

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - WYNONA LOUW

IT has been a tough road to the Cur­rie Cup semi-fi­nals for West­ern Prov­ince and de­spite the un­der­dog tag (which they don’t mind at all), the Cape side have a more pos­i­tive mind­set af­ter “fight­ing and claw­ing” their way into their clash against the Blue Bulls at Lof­tus to­day.

WP’s chances at a play­off spot looked bleak in the first half of the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter con­sec­u­tive and harsh de­feats to the Bulls and the Free State Chee­tahs. And af­ter their loss to the Golden Li­ons at El­lis Park a few weeks later, things looked even darker.

But they man­aged to se­cure wins over the East­ern Prov­ince Kings and the Sharks, and their tri­umphs over the Pu­mas, Gri­quas and the Boland Cava­liers in the lat­ter part of the tour­na­ment were enough to snatch a top-four spot.

Now, WP coach John Dob­son says there is plenty of en­thu­si­asm and with the odds stacked against them, that en­thu­si­asm is go­ing to be vi­tal.

“We have had about five quar­ter-fi­nals, be­cause ev­ery time if we were go­ing to lose we were go­ing to get knocked out. We sort of clawed and fought our way into the semis. So now it feels like we’re play­ing for some­thing pos­i­tive,” he said.

“We are play­ing for a fi­nal, we’re not play­ing for fear of fail­ure. It’s a dif­fer­ent mind­set now. Look­ing at the book­ies and look­ing at how the Bulls have played since they lost to the Sharks in Dur­ban, they’ve just got­ten bet­ter and bet­ter.

“Look at the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween their Su­per Rugby side and this one. Play­ing at Lof­tus and the al­ti­tude. They are play­ing good rugby, so we’re def­i­nitely the un­der­dogs. And we like that.”

Dob­son has also said that they are ex­pect­ing a lot of con­testable kicks from Nol­lis Marais’ side. It is some­thing that the Bulls have done with great ef­fi­cacy this sea­son and with the in­clu­sion of Ul­rich Bey­ers at full­back, a big kick­ing game might very well be on the cards.

“We have made some tweaks to our kick­ing game and han­dling their kick­ing game. We’ve also pre­pared for rain, but that seems to be di­min­ish­ing,” Dob­son added.

An­other fac­tor will be the bat­tle up front. While WP have re­li­able men in the en­gine room, the Bulls have the lux­ury of an al­most all-Su­per Rugby pack. But skip­per Chris van Zyl be­lieves that won’t get Prov­ince down at all.

“With­out a doubt (we can match them). I re­ally think our pack have come a long way and I be­lieve the guys in­volved can hit them back,” he said.

While the Bulls may be af­fected by a three-week lay­off, Dob­son was cau­tiously con­fi­dent about WP’s fit­ness and abil­ity to per­form at al­ti­tude.

“I don’t think I would have liked three weeks off. Two weeks are just enough. I think it’s ex­tra­or­di­nary for them to go through that and I don’t think it’s fair. It’s un­lucky for the Bulls,” he added.

“I’m not wor­ried about our fit­ness. In three sec­ond halves at al­ti­tude we haven’t lost. We won the one against the Bulls, we drew the one against the Li­ons and we won the sec­ond half against Gri­quas by a lot. so we’re not wor­ried about our fit­ness, but we do need to be care­ful.”

FROM LEFT FIELD: Leolin Zas can do some se­ri­ous dam­age while Jamba Ulengo is all kinds of trou­ble for the op­po­si­tion.

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