Coach John Dobson and captain Ernst van Rhyn say Western Province will “show fight and spirit” in the north-south derby against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Friday.
Dobson, who while in charge of the DHL Stormers snapped the Bulls’ 12-game winning streak at home in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on 18 February, also hopes WP can “do something special” on the Highveld.
WP travel to Loftus Versfeld looking to build on an impressive bonus-point win against the Lions in their Currie Cup opener last week, while the Bulls are still licking their wounds from a 63-15 mauling to defending champions, the Pumas.
Speaking at a WP press conference on Thursday, Dobson told reporters: “We see this as our biggest rivalry … We could see that a couple of weeks ago up there at Loftus with the Stormers, all those striped jerseys in the stands. Us and the Bulls have done a great job over the last while stoking that [rivalry].
“There’s just something about that light blue jersey versus the blue-and-white stripes that’s just a beautiful sight.
“We’ll have our challenges tomorrow, and no doubt the Bulls will be putting out a strong side, a more URC-based team. We’re not going that route but there’s a lot of pride in this group, and we’re going to fight tomorrow night.
“I dream, and fear, of weekends as a coach of what happened last Sunday [to the Bulls against the Pumas]. As well as the Pumas played, it was extraordinary; everything just stuck for them. We were a bit lucky to win away there last time with our URC team, so can’t be complacent with our Currie Cup team.
“We’ve just got to try and do something special there and make Cape Town proud. This game is not a knockout game, it’s a second-rounder in a 14-game Currie Cup. So we’ll be prepared for tomorrow, and will no doubt show some of our fight and spirit.”
Van Rhyn added: “We have to make sure we pitch up physically because it might be a more physically experienced Bulls pack, so we’ll work for each other and focus on that.
“We’ll take some confidence from last week’s win but the Bulls are a different challenge, especially from set-pieces like the lineouts, so we need to make sure we stop them there.”
Meanwhile, loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani will make his return from injury as part of a six-two split on the bench with lock-cum-blindside flanker Ben-Jason Dixon at Loftus.
Dobson said: “Between the Currie Cup and URC, we’ve only gone maybe three times with a five-three split; we’re a six-two split team week in, week out no matter the opposition unless we’ve got injury concerns.
“BJ is a guy who is playing really good rugby … Godlen [Masimla] and Hacjivah can cover for us on the wing, so it gives us some nice breathing space.”
Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/BackpagePix