The DHL Western Province Under-21 team has been named for Saturday’s Absa Provincial Under-21 semifinal clash against the Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 12h00).
The DHL WP Under-21s qualified for a home semifinal after winning 11 from 12 matches in the regular season, which saw them pick up 54 log points – 13 points ahead of their nearest challengers in second place. In the process, the Under-21s scored a massive 478 points and conceded just 193.
However, the team suffered some injury blows in their final league match in Durban last week, which has seen coach John Dobson make nine changes – three of them positional – ahead of Saturday.
Prop Oliver Kebble, lock Gerbrandt Grobler, utility forward Jurie van Vuuren and No.8 Rayn Smid are all unavailable for selection, with Grobler and Van Vuuren out for the remainder of 2013.
Centre Kobus van Wyk missed last Saturday’s clash in Durban, but it is hoped that he, like Kebble and Smid, will be ready should Province progress to the final.
Dobson told wprugby “It’s obviously very disappointing to be going into the weekend without Olly, Gerbrandt, Jurie and Rayn, but the challenge is there for this group of players to take us through to the final.
“Not many teams can lose a quality lock like Gerbrandt and then replace him with an SA Under-20 player (in Ruan Botha), so it shows just how good our depth is this season.
“Like I’ve said all year long, we’ve been working hard at building our depth and it will now be tested to the full and that’s exciting for me and the players selected. Unfortunately you cannot control injuries, but we’ve tried to control our depth and selection options and hopefully that will pay off for us.
“Nine changes might seem like quite a lot going into a semifinal but we have brought back players like Godlen Masimla and Dillyn Leyds, who we rested last week, and (flank) Justin Benn will be playing his sixth match this season, so he is no stranger to our team.”
The hard-working Benn will start in the No.6 shirt, with Sikhumbuzo Notshe shifting to back of the scrum in the absence of regular No.8 Smid. Captain Josh Katzen will start in the No.7 jersey.
“Like (assistant coach) Dawie Snyman says, our loose trio is like a lawnmower – they’re on the ground with a high work-rate and that’s an exciting thing for us to look at this week. They’re an intense trio and will bring a lot of energy to the game.
“We’re fortunate to have played against the Lions quite recently, so we know what to expect from them,” said Dobson.
“Yes, we’ve beaten them twice this season, but that counts for nothing come Saturday and we will have to make it count. At the same time, the guys are all looking forward to the opportunity of playing in a semifinal… especially at home at DHL Newlands.”
* The DHL WP Under-21s will be playing the curtain-raiser (kick-off 12h00) to the Absa Currie Cup semifinal between Western Province and the Lions (14h30). Before the U21 match, the DHL WP Emerging team will face the Blue Bulls Amateurs at 09h45 in the National Amateur Final.
Match tickets for Saturday can be purchased online (wprugby.ticketpros.co.za), from Postnet Outlets, selected Western Cape SPAR stores or the Newlands Box Office.
Ticket prices start at R90 (for standing), with seating ticket prices ranging from R150 to R250. Scholars tickets can be purchased directly from the WP Rugby offices, whilst 2013 DHL Newlands season tickets are valid for all three matches on Saturday.
The DHL Western Province Under-21 team to take on the Lions is as follows:
15. Dillyn Leyds
14. Craig Barry
13. Johnny Kotze
12. Pat Howard
11. Devon Williams
10. Tim Swiel
9. Godlen Masimla
8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
7. Josh Katzen (captain)
6. Justin Benn
5. Ruan Botha
4. Jean Kleyn
3. Entienne Swanepoel
2. Michael Willemse
1. Justin Ackerman
16. Stephan Coetzee
17. Deacon Chowles
18. Carel du Preez
19. Eital Bredenkamp
20. Jean Nel
21. JP Lewis
22. Janco Gunter
Referee: Jaco van Heerden