DHL Western Province change six for Vodacom Cup Final

May 28 • General News, Super Rugby • 1470 Views • Comments Off on DHL Western Province change six for Vodacom Cup Final

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DHL Western Province coach John Dobson has made six changes for Saturday’s first-ever Vodacom Cup Final at DHL Newlands (kick-off 14h10).

DHL WP will host the in-form Pumas in Cape Town in what should be a cracking 2015 final this weekend, with flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe and fullback EW Viljoen missing out.

Notshe will be part of the DHL Stormers matchday 23 against the Cheetahs on Saturday, whilst Viljoen has already left for Italy with the South African Under-20 team for the World Rugby Junior World Championship.

Justin Benn will start at No.7 in Notshe’s place, whilst Jean-Luc du Plessis will line up at fullback in place of Viljoen.

Du Plessis’s switch from flyhalf to fullback is one of four positional changes to the side that defeated the Blue Bulls by 10-6 in last Saturday’s semifinal at DHL Newlands; the other changes seeing Robert du Preez take over at No.10, Jaco Taute shifting to inside centre and Pat Howard lining up in his preferred position of outside centre.

Speaking about the personnel changes, coach Dobson told wprugby.com: “We are very excited by the final. It’s the first time we have ever hosted a Vodacom Cup Final and we will certainly do our best to ensure we win it.

“Sure, we have had some disruptions this week, but that is part of rugby.

“We have fantastic support from our union who have two teams playing on Saturday in two serious competitions. Losing Notshe is a blow, but, to be honest, loose forward selection has been a headache (for us) given how well Justin Benn has been playing.

“I am pleased that EW Viljoen has got the opportunity to play for the SA U20s – it would be selfish of us to worry about just ourselves and deprive him of that chance.

“Jean-Luc du Plessis has played 15 before and he goes back there (for this week) and Rob du Preez gets an overdue return to No.10. Ironically, it also gives us the chance to return both Jaco Taute (No.12) and Pat Howard (No.13) to arguably their best positions.”

Dobson and his assistant coach Dawie Snyman – who will coach the Absa Currie Cup team later this year – have been working together since the 2010 Absa Provincial Under-21 season and have collected three major trophies in that time; at junior and senior level combined and never have failed to make a play-off in any competition.

In all, their Vodacom Cup record reads an impressive 38 wins from 45 starts (play-off matches included), for a 84% win ratio, not bad reading as they chase a second Vodacom Cup title in the space of just four seasons.

Dobson, however, has stressed the importance of his team stepping up ahead of Saturday after last weekend’s hard-fought semifinal win, as they get set face up to the in-form and confident Pumas, who have won two knockout games away from home en route to the 2015 final.

“We were not happy with our performance last week, especially when it came to handling,” he admitted.

“I was pleased with our forward-effort last week, and the fact that we got the upperhand in the scrums, but have worked hard to avoid conceding penalties there.

“We have addressed this, although conditions were more treacherous than they looked. I think should it be damp again this Saturday, so last week would have been an invaluable experience (for us) and certainly not something our opponents will be used to.

“The Pumas are a very strong side, who have comfortably knocked out two good opponents on their way to the finals (in beating Griquas and the Lions both away),” warned Dobson.

“It’s a massive challenge for us, but we will certainly be up for it. It means a lot to us and this fantastic union.”

* Match tickets, priced between R80 and R140, can still be purchased ahead of Saturday’s Vodacom Cup and Super Rugby matches at DHL Newlands – with tickets valid for both games – either online, at http://wprugby.computicket.com, or from Computicket outlets and Shoprite & Checkers stores nationwide.

The DHL Western Province team to face the Pumas (home) is as follows:

15. Jean-Luc du Plessis
14. Willy Ambaka
13. Pat Howard (vice-captain)
12. Jaco Taute
11. Tshotsho Mbovane
10. Robert du Preez
9. Godlen Masimla
8. Rayn Smid
7. Justin Benn
6. Tapiwa Tsomondo
5. Chris van Zyl
4. Jan de Klerk
3. Wilco Louw
2. Michael Willemse (captain)
1. Sti Sithole


Replacements:

16. Charlton van Jaarsveld
17. Deacon Chowles
18. Wilhelm van der Sluys
19. Luke van der Smit
20. Justin Phillips
21. Kyle Lombard
22. Mat Turner


Referee:
 Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Francois Pretorius
TMO: Deon van Blommestein

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