Blue Bulls coach Pote Human has called on his charges to match Western Province at the scrums and outwork the hosts around the park in the semi-final at Newlands on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Western Province are on a nine-game winning streak in the tournament, dating back to October 2017. In this year’s competition, they have scored 276 points (no other team has scored more than 239) and 38 tries (the most). They have conceded the fewest points (113) in the tournament.
More to the point, Province have not lost to the Bulls at Newlands since 2009, when the men from Pretoria won 21-19. Incidentally, that was also a semi-final and the Bulls went on to win the title.
Since then the Bulls have not been able to add to their Currie Cup title tally, while Province have been crowned champions three times over the same period.
When the north-south rivals met at Loftus in the last game of the regular season, the visitors bamboozled the Bulls in a rain-affected clash that was abandoned at half-time. And yet, despite the torrid conditions, Province went on to score four tries to claim a 34-7 win.
Human, however, insists that none of the aforementioned statistics or previous encounters will matter much when the teams square off at Newlands on Saturday.
‘We must put that game and all the other stuff behind us and start all over again,’ said Human. ‘If we dwell on the past and what happened at Loftus, we’ll make it more difficult for ourselves.
‘Western Province are a good, well-balanced and well-coached side. There can be no doubt about that after they came to Loftus and put 34 points on us in 40 minutes in very bad conditions. But the next game is a knockout game and anything can happen on the day. My players will definitely put up a better performance and if we stick to the processes that have been working for us, we can upset Province.’
Human did admit that there are several work-ons for the Bulls before their semi-final, with the coach especially lamenting their scrum struggles and poor defensive effort.
‘Our scrummaging was poor over the weekend. If the same thing happens again, the same result will follow. We have to match them at scrum time.
‘Our ball retention must also improve. We can’t afford to give Province any turnovers like we did last week. They are lethal from turnover possession, I think they’ve scored the most tries from turnovers. We’ll have to be more disciplined when it comes to ball protection,’ he added.
Human further explained how the Bulls could score an upset this weekend.
‘I’ve said to my players that Western Province have no clear weaknesses that we can look to exploit. We’ll just have to try and outwork them, which isn’t going to be easy in front of a hostile Newlands crowd.
‘But if we create enough opportunities and use them well, we’ll make it tough for them. That will put pressure on them, which is not something they’ve experienced a hell of a lot of so far.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images