Vodacom Blue Bulls captain Frikkie Welsh has been involved in many North v South encounters, but none more important than Friday night’s Absa Currie Cup clash.
And as the race for semi-final and, indeed, home semi-final spots intensifies, this weekend’s round of matches is sure to have a huge bearing on the make-up of the top four.
The Newlands turf will not be a place for the faint hearted as two of South Africa’s rugby heavyweights slug it out. Expect the Bulls and Western Province to spill many pints of blood as they square up in one of the clashes of the season. Province are aiming for a rare Currie Cup double, while the Bulls are looking to make it two wins at Newlands this year following the thrashing in the Vodacom Super 14.
After a break last weekend Welsh and the rest of his Bulls team-mates are pumped up for revenge against Luke Watsonâ€™s team. “Western Province are a young team and under Watson they are really beginning to gel. Luke is a major factor for them,” Welsh told keo.co.za. “It is never easy to go to Newlands and win so I am expecting a really tough match, as always.”
“We have placed a lot of emphasis on winning away from home that I think it has impacted negatively on our home form, but nevertheless it is important to get a win against a team also competing for semi-final places. Bulls players always cherish a win over Western Province at Newlands more than most others.”
If the Bulls can pull off a win and have their neighbours, the Lions, do them a favour against the Cheetahs at Ellis Park (also on Friday night), they will be right back in with a shout of finishing top of the log.
And that would represent a major turnaround in fortunes for last yearâ€™s beaten finalists. The Bulls form at home has not been of its usual standard, but away from home they are having more success. Welsh really hopes that will continue in Cape Town.
“We really owe them one thatâ€™s for sure,” said Welsh. “It really hurt to lose at Loftus in the first round to them and we want to even out the score today.”
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Johan Roets, Marius Delport, JP Nel, Dries Scholtz, Frikkie Welsh (c), Derick Hougaard, Heini Adams, Derick KuÃ¼n, Johan Wasserman, Hilton Lobberts, Francois van Schouwenburg, Hottie Louw, Danie Thiart, Gary Botha, Jaco Engels. Reserves: Adriaan Strauss, Ruan Vermeulen, Adriaan Fondse, Warren Brosnihan, Neil Powell, MornÃ© Steyn, Danwel Demas.
By Andrew Hollely