Preview: Western Province v Pumas

Date published: September 25 2015

Western Province will host the Pumas in a Currie Cup fixture at the Newslands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.

The story of Western Province has been a strange one this season, given that the two defeats they have suffered were against opposition they would have been expected to beat.

Towards the end of August they came unstuck in a tightly-contested fixture against the Cheetahs in the Free State and one week prior to that they were bulldozed by the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. 

What is significant about both those defeats is that they were both recorded while on the road. Western Province at home have been a completely different animal and that is something the Pumas will have to think long and hard about ahead of their trip to Newlands this weekend.

The last time these two teams met, at Nelspruit, Western Province emerged as comfortable winners. The Pumas did not disgrace themselves then and certainly haven't disgraced themselves during the current Currie Cup campaign either.

After the first seven rounds of competition, they have garnered three victories. One of those victories was against the Sharks at the start of the season. Although, it could be argued that the Sharks of 2015 have been well below par.

Team News: Nevertheless, a trip to Newlands is never an easy one for any team. That has been made significantly more difficult by news that the Pumas will be without the services of team talisman Stefan Watermeyer this weekend.

That means that scrum-half Faf de Klerk will take over the reins for the Mpumalanga union. The absence of Watermeyer essentially means that Wilmaure Louw will slot in at inside centre. The jury is out on how successful that change will be.

It also means that Jerome Pretorius will shift from the wing to outside centre. Finally, Bernado Botha will then come back into the team and start on the right wing. There is a considerable amount of instability to deal with in the back-line.

While Western Province will make some changes this week, their situation is not quite as grave. Oli Kebble does come into the team and will start at prop. Coach John Dobson has also decided on Kobus van Wyk starting on the right wing. Dillyn Leyds will start at full-back, Jano Vermaak comes in at scrum-half. 

Dobson's forward pack this week will include Jan de Klerk, who will start in the second row, ahead of Jean Kleyn who now moves to the bench.

Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who started at number eight last week, will move to the side of the scrum against the Pumas, as he makes way for Nizaam Carr. Carr will also assume the captaincy this week.

The new faces on the bench this week are fit-again hooker Michael Willemse (in for the injured Scarra Ntubeni), prop Ali Vermaak and utility back Jaco Taute.

Prediction: There can only be one winner on Saturday and that is Western Province with a bonus point. 

Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr (c), 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Jean Kleyn, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Demetri Catrakilis, 22 Jaco Taute.

Pumas: 15 Hoffmann Maritz, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Wilmaure Louw, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Francois de Klerk (c), 8 Jason-Colin Fraser, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Rudi Mathee, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Johan Herbst, 21 Hennie Skorbinski, 22 Deon Helberg.

Date: Saturday, September 24
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 15:00 (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Divan Uys