Free State captain Ollie le Roux has added some spice to the already mouthwatering prospect of a top-of-the-table battle in Bloemfontein.
Friday night sees the champs hosting Vodacom Western Province in yet another Absa Currie Cup scrap for premier position on the log. Province have the momentum after a spectacular 23-12 victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls last week, while the Vodacom Cheetahs will conversely be looking to regain their balance after being rocked by their recent 39-28 loss to the Lions.
But Le Roux is confident that the defeat at Ellis Park will detract nothing from the impending contest. He admitted to keo.co.za that although WP have done well to reach the top, their scrum will definitely be targeted on Friday.
“I think that having a good solid scrum in this competition is non-negotiable, and WP have scrummed well this season,” he said. “However, I’m not so sure that their scrumming has been all that legal.”
Le Roux applauded the WP front row for getting away with repeated infringements and illegal tactics to combat the superior props of the Bulls and other strong scrums in the competition.
“When you are under a lot of pressure, you tend to stand up in the front row. Brock Harris is especially guilty of this, but we have been working on a way to nullify that. It should be a very interesting contest.”
The Cheetahs outplayed WP in the scrums and lineouts of the Round 1 match at Newlands. Le Roux feels that these aspects as well as the rolling maul will once again be the Free Staters’ strengths. But after last week’s big defeat to the Lions, they will have plenty of work to do in preparation for a Province team who has improved with every game this season.
“I think that the big thing we will need to work on in the next few days is absorbing the pressure applied by the bigger sides. We were a bit too erratic last Friday, and this is because we lost our heads in pressure situations.”
Meyer Bosman has been sidelined with a broken hand, and so Willem de Waal makes a welcomed return. Le Roux believes that although the Cheetahs will miss the services of Bosman, the incoming De Waal is a man for the big occasion.
“Meyer is a phenomenal talent, but Willem is a also a very good player. He’s also a very experienced flyhalf with a cool head, and excels under pressure.”
Both teams to play in Bloemfontein will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.
By Jon Cardinelli