The second semi final this weekend will see a repeat of last years semi final also at Loftus when the Blue Bulls take on old rivals Western Province on Saturday afternoon.
Last year the Blue Bulls also came into the semi final as favorites with Western Province upsetting the apple cart in beating them to advance to the final against the Golden Lions. With the Blue Bulls having played some great rugby at times we can expect then to come out firing against an different Western Province side this year.
Western Province had to fight the last few weeks in almost every pool game to stay in the race and eventually got through to face the Bulls on Saturday. It was clearly not a season the men from Cape Town can be proud off but they will feel that each team will have a 50/50 change in this knockout rugby semi final.
Defense has been one of Western Province biggest concerns letting teams score willingly throughout the competition against them. Although Western Province have scored some great tries this year they did let through 250 points this season.
The two teams met in the first round this year with the Blue Bulls outplaying Province in the first half but to Province credit they did come back late in the second half to score a bonus point for four tries.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais have continued to combined the Blue Bulls blue print of strong forwards with now an exciting brand the backs are able to play. With allot of youngsters in the team the Blue Bulls have quietly build in a well balance side with a really strong forward pack.
The forwards have really impressed me this year and they kept on getting better and dominated most teams in scrums and line outs.
Arno Botha have been back this year after a bunch of injuries that kept him of the park to not just lead this Blue Bulls side in the Currie Cup but also lead by example. The other two outstanding players this year for me was RG Snyman and Marvin Orie at lock, the two has seen the most improvement for me in the Currie Cup and Snyman looks like his dreams of wearing that green and gold is not far away.
The team was also boosted by the return of Springbok Rudy Paige who will start the semi final for the Blue Bulls at 9.
With Western Province side struggling to have any kind of consistency this year most of their star players also had and indifferent games but for a good look at the match-ups between these two side go and read Benedicts view on it here
Coach Dobson made six changes to his side who played in the last match against Boland and would want a repeat of last years upset against the Blue Bulls to advance to the final.
The biggest plus for Dobson this week was to get the service of Springbok Bongi Mbonambi back in his front row as well as Juan de Jongh in the midfield.
Prediction: Truly believe the Blue Bulls is just more of a complete outfit to loose this one, Blue Bulls by 10 points
Blue Bulls Team: Ulrich Beyers (18), Travis Ismaiel (18), Dries Swanepoel (17), Burger Odendaal (29), Jamba Ulengo (20), Tian Schoeman (22), Rudy Paige (12), Arno Botha (k, 29), Jannes Kirsten (9), Roelof Smit (10), RG Snyman (17), Marvin Orie (19), Jacobie Adriaanse (65), Jaco Visagie (16), Lizo Gqoboka (62).
Replacements: Bandise Maku (81), Martin Dreyer (37), Pierre Schoeman (12), Jason Jenkins (6), Hanro Liebenberg (11), Ivan van Zyl (10), Joshua Stander (7), Bjorn Basson (68)/Nic de Jager (6).
DHL Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Smith, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Johnny Kotze, 23 Scott van Breda.