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Rugby | SuperSport Rugby Challenge

Why Province don’t like playing the Cavaliers in SRC

The enduring riddle in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge – if you’re a coach, that is – has been how DHL Western Province, the defending champions from last year inaugural tournament can be beaten.

Since the competition began last year, John Dobson’s men have yet to lose a match despite 18 sometimes spirited efforts by the opposition.

But in the Boland Cavaliers they’ve had a team almost dedicated to giving them the hurry up, if not stopping defence coach Norman Laker’s heart.

In the tournament’s young history, Randall Modiba’s team has not lost to Province via a bonus points victory in three out of four matches, a scrapping approach which culminated in their two sides’ pulsating 24-all draw at Esselen Park Stadium in Worcester.

There, an 80th minute try by former SA Under-20 eighthman Juarno Augustus saved Province from their first defeat since the Rugby Challenge began.

Thankfully, flyhalf Josh Stander, who scored the penalty that had won the corresponding fixture by two points, missed the conversion.

“Augustus has a great impact on the game in his first game from injury,” remembered Modiba. “I never thought I’d see the day when Province were happy with a draw against Boland. The players showed character and didn’t stand back for a class outfit like Province.”

The draw meant it was the first time Boland didn’t lose a game to WP since 2006, so why are they such tricky opponents?

“We don’t give them a predictable picture when we play them. We try to balance our game in attack and defence because you can’t be one-dimensional against them.”

Modiba was loath to give lectures to his colleagues on something everyone has failed to do, but he did offer his observations: “There are no secrets anymore, so it’s not like the guys don’t know what to do. But we played them three times in warm-ups and all of those games they beat us around the 80th minute.

“The thing with them is you must be able to fight for the full 80 minutes when you play them. As you can see from the score Western Province never give up, that’s why they are the champions and have not lost in this competition – they’re a tough team.

“They put a lot of pressure on teams at the breakdown and their secret weapon is their line speed in defence because they are lethal on turnover ball with the many X-factor players they have. You must try to outmuscle them at the collisions with ball in hand, have good ball retention and your ruck speed must be decent – but the key is execution.”

Modiba said the fact that some of the Boland players used to play with their Western Province counterparts, and vice versa, may have a bearing in the brother against brother feel to the Western Cape derby.

He said he hoped coming close, but failing, to beating their neighbours would show in the team’s improvement: “I believe we’re learning a lot out of it, so we’ll take it as a learning curve. But we must improve and not let it be a barrier because we have a lot of (Currie Cup) rugby ahead.”

With their next opponents, the SWD Eagles, the Cavaliers are two of the most improved teams in what is becoming a competitive South Pool, with both sides in a bitter fight to join Province in the competition’s playoffs in three weeks’ time.

“We’re a young team that’s only in our second year together and we try to focus on what we can control,” Modiba explained their improvement.

“We pride ourselves on planning well and developing new and better leaders in the team and trying to keep things simple in a disciplined programme.”

Looking at the game against the Eagles this weekend, Modiba expected another dogfight against a team he feels will target them: “Much of their improvement this year is down to the structures their coach (Rynhardt van As) put in place because those players are the same players that have always been there.

“I think they’ll target us as the game to win because they have Western Province, a team they don’t have a good record against. It’ll all be about survival but we’ll focus on ourselves.”


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