Xoli, Geduld bolster DHL WP Under-21s

Oct 16 • General News • 2387 Views • Comments Off on Xoli, Geduld bolster DHL WP Under-21s

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The table-topping DHL Western Province Under-21 team has received a backline boost ahead of Saturday’s Absa Provincial Under-21 semifinal against the Free State Cheetahs U21s at DHL Newlands (kick-off 14h30).

Coach John Dobson has been able to include both left-wing Lihleli Xoli and fullback Justin Geduld in his starting line-up, Xoli having recovered from an ankle injury and Geduld rejoining the squad from SA Sevens duty.

The return of his back three duo aside, Dobson has made a host of changes to last week’s experimental side that defeated the Sharks Under-21s by 51-32 at DHL Newlands.

Flanker Eital Bredenkamp returns at No.6 for this semifinal match-up and predictably resumes the captaincy, with Justin Benn (No.7) and Carel du Preez (No.8) joining him in the loose trio.

In the tight five, meanwhile, second row star Jurie van Vuuren drops back down to the Under-21 team after two weeks on Absa Currie Cup duty and Jan Uys (lock) and Michael Willemse (hooker) are back to full fitness and, thus, able to take their places as starters.

“We are thrilled to have forwards like Mikey Willemse, Jan Uys and Jurie van Vuuren back – guys who were missing in our last game and guys (Willemse and Vuuren) who boast Super Rugby experience,” Dobson told wprugby.com.

“It’s also a treat to have Justin Geduld back in the side (at fullback) and also wing Lihleli Xoli has responded brilliantly to treatment for an ankle injury which looked to have ended his season a few short weeks ago.

“It’s been a nice (selection) problem to have this week, but also a little harsh on those guys who stood in so well (last week) and those players that have bailed us out in some lean times in the past few weeks.

“But the exciting thing is that these guys I’ve mentioned are by and large Under-20 (and still Under-21 next year), so it will be experience well gained and WP Rugby will get a return on exposing their depth. To beat a Sharks team by 50 points at DHL Newlands was special and we were extremely proud of them. That is why I feel sad that so many are not in the mix this week.”

The DHL WP Under-21s suffered just one defeat this year as they once again (as per last year) topped the log at the end of the regular season – recording 10 bonus point wins (from 12 starts), scoring 580 points and conceding just 268 points in the process.

However, a semifinal is a different challenge altogether and Dobson stopped well short of being over-confident this week, saying of his opponents: “We know this Cheetahs team will never stop coming at us – they never quit and we know that they will seize on any errors.

“In a knockout game it takes just one punch to end a season, so we have to be at our clinical best. We have worked hard on our game tempo and the scenarios we might face. We have to close them out should we need to, rather than playing our high-intensity rugby which could produce errors for them to capitalise on.

“But the DHL Western Province Under-21 team of 2014 is tight, happy and excited and desperate to ensure it lives another week. I am sure we will get this right.”

The DHL WP Under-21 team for Saturday (v Free State, home) is as follows:

15. Justin Geduld
14. Lihleli Xoli
13. Johnny Kotze
12. Kyle Lombard
11. JP Lewis
10. Robert du Preez
9. Jean Nel (vice-captain)
8. Carel du Preez
7. Justin Benn
6. Eital Bredenkamp
5. Jan Uys
4. Jurie van Vuuren
3. Deacon Chowles
2. Michael Willemse
1. John-Hubert Meyer

Replacements:
16. Michael Kennedy
17. Wesley Adonis
18. Devon Nash
19. Tapiwa Tsomondo
20. SP Ferreira
21. WJ Strydom
22. Huw Jones

Referee: Rodney Boneparte

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