Western Province will await the Sharks in Cape Town for possibly their final game at Newlands Stadium
CAPE TOWN – The Currie Cup play-offs are here! Unless there are further disruptions due to Covid-19, this weekend will see the top teams square off in the last-four battle after what has been an interesting season.
While the Bulls – who have been the top team since domestic rugby returned (they also claimed the Super Rugby Unlocked title) – will host the Lions at Loftus (kick-off 2pm), Western Province will await the Sharks in Cape Town for possibly their final game at Newlands Stadium (4.30pm), unless the Lions manage to overcome Jake White’s unit. If that’s the case, the grand ol’ dame will play host to the Currie Cup final, should the Capetonians triumph against the Sharks.
Here are four players who can help the hosts make what could be their last outing at Newlands a good one.
There’s probably not much reason to sit back and hope that this man has a good game on Saturday – when it comes to him, delivering the goods has become standard and expected. Whether it’s him giving opposition tightheads a tough time at the scrum or producing a workhorse-like effort in open play, the World Cup-winner always ranks among the top performers in a game, be that at Test or domestic level. While it’s been a different rugby year, he has remained the same.
While he hasn’t fired in every game since rugby returned, he has produced some reliable outings, particularly in their crunch match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, where he slotted an 81st minute penalty to snatch the win after a thrilling encounter and knock the Free State side out of contention for the play-offs. That piece of play – connecting a late, not-so-straightforward kick – would have required some steady nerves.
Those nerves and that accuracy are going to be vital against the Sharks, not only when it comes to setting up the tee, but with their overall tactical kicking as well. There can be no missed opportunities (be it in the form of a penalty kick sent wide or a cringeworthy touchfinder or whatever else) this weekend, his tactical productions are going to be an important box to tick … and kick.
Sure, there have perhaps been fewer sparks from Willemse, especially soon after rugby resumed in South Africa, but he’s grown more consistent in his partnership with Swiel and his overall contributions at fullback.
He could play a key role on Saturday, especially in broken play (all it will take is a gap and his feet and pace will do the rest). After all, when he gets that attacking brilliance right, there’s very little that can cause a short circuit when it comes to his electric current with ball in hand.
Big ball-carrying, a nose to sniff out the try line from tight situations (he seems to quite enjoy a snipe down the blindside) and overall impact and physicality are just some of the areas where Augustus has time and time again proven to thrive in, and if he can add a bit of that this weekend, the Sharks loosies – and the rest of their defence – are going to have their hands full.