Dobson warns Prov­ince of Bulls’ ‘high-speed’ game

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

WEST­ERN Prov­ince coach John Dobson is brac­ing him­self for a mas­sive clash against the “meta­mor­phosed” Blue Bulls at New­lands to­day (kick-off 5.15 pm).

As if the clas­sic NorthSouth derby, as a mere fix­ture, wasn’t big enough on its own – throw in the fact that WP are un­der pres­sure to se­cure a win – and the match be­comes even big­ger.

The pres­sure on Prov­ince started to in­crease when they suf­fered an up­set in Kim­ber­ley on Wed­nes­day af­ter kick­ing their Cur­rie Cup cam­paign off to a poor start with de­feat to the Free State Chee­tahs, and Gri­quas’ 44-34 bonus-point win over the Cape side ob­vi­ously didn’t do much for their con­fi­dence ei­ther.

As early as their sec­ond match, Dobson pointed out there was no room for com­pla­cency af­ter their loss in Bloem­fontein, so it’s a good thing the for­mer Ikey Tigers coach knows they have their work prop­erly cut out for them this week­end.

“It has been a tough week for us, but the play­ers are de­ter­mined to rise to the oc­ca­sion,” he said.

“There’s been a big meta­mor­pho­sis at the Bulls, they’re very dif­fer­ent to the Su­per Rugby team in terms of the way they play. That was prob­a­bly pre­dictable given that John Mitchell has ar­rived,” Dobson said dur­ing the team an­nounce­ment.

Dobson and co ex­pe­ri­enced a good dose of high-tempo rugby against the Gri­quas, and he was ex­pect­ing the same from their old foes – that and a solid break­down-ef­fort as well.

“Their gen­eral move­ment is much bet­ter, their in­tent is much bet­ter, their tempo is bet­ter and their break­down work is bet­ter. So they’re play­ing a high-speed game,” he said.

“They’re ask­ing teams to make 150, 200 tack­les like the Sharks did on Wed­nes­day.

“It’s a case of Déja vu. Six or seven years ago that same process started at the Lions.”

And although he was aware of the all the Bulls’ threats, Dobson was also con­fi­dent in his team’s abil­i­ties.

“So they’re go­ing to pose a threat more sim­i­lar to the Lions, but we’ll be okay for that.

Cap­tain and lock Chris van Zyl also high­lighted the im­por­tance of “fo­cus­ing on their pro­cesses”, and af­ter an un­pleas­ant dis­play of un­forced er­rors, ill-dis­ci­pline and poor de­fence against the North­ern Cape team, the skip­per said that his team would be “un­stop­pable” if they can stay clear of the same mis- takes.

“It’s ob­vi­ously dif­fi­cult af­ter such a loss (to Gri­quas) to not dwell on the dis­ap­point­ment, but with the short turn­around we’re able to box that dis­ap­point­ment and learn from it,” Van Zyl said.

“The fo­cus from my side will be to ac­knowl­edge these de­fen­sive prob­lems and I’ve got no doubt that if we do that, we’ll be un­stop­pable.”

But aside from their proc­sses, a few play­ers should help the hosts in their quest to “un­stop­pable” at home to­day.

Prov­ince will wel­come back hooker Scarra Ntubeni, who will make his 50th ap­pear­ance for WP, to the start­ing line-up and, ear­lier this week, Dobson de­scribed the front-rower’s li­ne­out-throw­ing as “ex­cel­lent”, so that should cer­tainly help them at the set-piece.

Young fly­half Damian Willemse, WP’s first- choice pivot at the mo­ment ac­cord­ing to Dobson, and ex­pe­ri­enced scrumhalf Jano Ver­maak will also make half­back some­thing to watch, while speed­ster Se­abelo Se­natla will have an­other chance to keep the op­po­si­tion on their feet with his thrilling at­tack­ing play.

Prov­ince will also wel­come back Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional Huw Jones, and his mid­field part­ner­ship with EW Viljoen, who had a good out­ing and was es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous in the wide chan­nels on Wed­nes­day, should also be a treat.

CON­FI­DENT: John Dobson, Head Coach of West­ern Prov­ince, be­lieves his team can match the Bulls at New­lands.

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