John Dobson was delighted with DHL Western Province’s grit after twice trailing the Vodacom Bulls in the bonus-point Currie Cup victory in Pretoria on Friday night. DYLAN JACK reports.
Following a bright start to the first half, Western Province trailed the Vodacom Bulls by one point at half time and it appeared the hosts would come away with the win when tighthead prop Francois Klopper gave them an eight-point going into the final 20 minutes.
At that stage, the Vodacom Bulls were dominating possession and territory, punching holes in Province’s defence through their seemingly relentless forward carries and winning penalty after penalty.
However, much to Dobson’s delight, Province showed incredible heart to not only deny the Vodacom Bulls the opportunity to stretch the lead, but fight their way back into the contest and seal the win.
“At one stage, the Bulls could have got away from us. They were eight points clear,” Dobson said after the match. “I can’t give any answer other than fight. We left 24 guys training in Cape Town yesterday that we didn’t bring up here. I just asked these guys to do something special and keep fighting.
“We gave them far too many entries in the second half. Our plan was not to give away too many penalties in midfield which would lead to entries and we didn’t get that right. I actually can’t give you an answer, we just fought. They could have got away from us and we just had to fight. We closed it out very well towards the end there.”
The win saw Western Province continue their unbeaten start to the Currie Cup, carrying the success that the DHL Stormers have sustained in the second Vodacom United Rugby Championship season.
“There is probably a similar look to this Currie Cup team in the last two weeks that there is to the Stormers in terms of DNA, how we fight, how we chase kicks,” explained Dobson. “We are working very hard across the union to have that same DNA and fighting sprit.
“Although we conceded four tries, I thought our defence was exceptional. It’s a cornerstone and something we pride ourselves on as a union. We have put some pride back in the jersey. We have had some horrible, lean years, it might happen again, but there’s no question that we have put pride back in the jersey.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the win was that, while both teams were missing Springboks, Western Province fielded a blend of experience and youth against close to the most experienced outfit the Vodacom Bulls could field.
“The whole thing is about building depth and creating more opportunities,” said Dobson. “At one stage we had used the most players in the URC, which was our goal.
“As I said, there are 24 guys training in Cape Town for the trip to Leinster. The best thing about it – we might win nothing this season – but in terms of creating a sustainability in this team, it’s a big achievement.
“We did have some Springboks out there – Scarra [Ntubeni] and Juan de Jongh – but also some really exciting youngsters. Kade Wolhuter and Bruce Sherwood, the youngest guy ever to play for Western Province.”
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Image