Botha boost for DHL Western Province Under-19s

Oct 16 • General News • 2512 Views • Comments Off on Botha boost for DHL Western Province Under-19s

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Photo: William Brown

The DHL Western Province Under-19 team will welcome back captain Rikus Bothma for Saturday morning’s Absa Provincial Under-19 semifinal against Free State’s U19s in Bloemfontein (kick-off 11h00).

Bothma has been out of action since early September with a stomach injury, but his return could not have come at a better time for Nazeem Adams’s charges, who were a try away from securing a home semifinal – against the same opponents – this season.

His leadership aside, Bothma had been a star performer in the No.8 jersey for his side up until his injury, which saw him rewarded with the 2014 WP Rugby Under-19 Forward of the Year Award at the recent annual Western Province Rugby Awards evening.

Adams explained to “Free State scored a bonus point try in the final minute of their match against the Lions to secure second-place on the log, whereas we just missed out on a fourth try (and with it second place on the log) in the final minute of our match against the Sharks.

“That said, I told the guys right after our match on Saturday to put the disappointment (of not getting a home semifinal) behind them and to concentrate on going to Bloemfontein and doing the job away from home.

“In 2012 we won the title away from home (in the final in Durban)… the nature of top-level sport means you might have to play an away knockout match at some point (and so does the Under-19 tournament format!), but I back this team to create some magic in Bloemfontein.”

The last time the DHL WP U19s went to Bloemfontein they suffered a disappointing 7-38 loss to Free State, but a lot has changed since that defeat two weeks ago – the most notable being the return (from injury) of Bothma, lock David Ribbans, prop Francois van der Merwe and hooker Paul-Martin Wipplinger.

“We lost Ribbans early on in that game and our set-piece really struggled from that moment onwards. A scoreline of 38-7 sounds like a hiding, but I can promise you that it won’t happen again!

“Our preparation has been good this week, the return of someone like Rikus has lifted the guys a lot ahead of a vital game like this. They seem calmer and more focused and training, especially up front, has gone very well.

“Our forwards have had the big injury disruptions this year, but there is a great determination within our ranks to make up for our late-season stutter,” added Adams, referring to their away defeats to the Bulls, the Lions and Free State between August 30 and October 4.

“It’s a cliché but anything can happen in a play-off match. Also, we do have a huge incentive knowing that there is a chance of a potential at final at DHL Newlands – if we win and our senior side beats the Blue Bulls this weekend (too).

“It would be an amazing moment for WP Rugby were all three DHL WP teams to advance to a home final at DHL Newlands next weekend. We certainly want to be there and we will be giving it our all in Bloemfontein this weekend to make it happen!”

The DHL WP Under-19 team for Saturday (v Free State, away) is as follows:

15. Khanyo Ngcukana
14. Grant Hermanus
13. Heinrich Buhr
12. Ryan Oosthuizen
11. Leolin Zas
10. Ernst Stapelberg
9. Justin Phillips
8. Rikus Bothma (captain)
7. Luke Stringer
6. Christo van der Merwe
5. David Ribbans
4. Johan Momsen
3. Francois van der Merwe
2. Paul-Martin Wipplinger
1. Frans van Wyk

16. Hanno Snyman
17. Lebohang Mdakane
18. Kyle Whyte
19. Ruan du Preez
20. Graham Geldenhuys
21. Brendon Nell
22. Jarryd Sage
23. Adriaan Carelse

Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys

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