DHL Western Province got in some valuable perparation for the upcoming Supersport Rugby Challenge in a pre-season friendly against Griquas in Upington on Saturday.
Having gone through the inaugural SuperSport Rugby Challenge unbeaten last year, coach John Dobson’s squad has been hard at work on the training pitch as they prepare to defend their title.
The friendly against Griquas was a good chance for Dobson to have a look at the depth available to him, with illness in the DHL Stormers camp and Varsity Cup commitments leaving DHL Western Province without most of their first-choice players.
In a match held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the city of Upington, Dobson’s charges gave a good account of themselves against a full-strength Griquas team, going down 40-35 in a hard-fought encounter.
Despite being down 28-7 at half-time, DHL Western Province fought back manfully in the second half, giving themselves a shot at victory in the closing stages.
While there were five club players involved, giving Dobson a good chance to look at the options available to him, there were also several DHL Stormers players, such as Scarra Ntubeni, Jano Vermaak and Jean-Luc du Plessis who made their return from injury.
Dobson was happy to report no new injuries from the Upington trip and was satisfied with what he saw from his team as they continue to build ahead of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
“It was a very enjoyable trip, with amazing hospitality from Upington Rugby Club. It was a great chance to test our depth for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge as well as help the DHL Stormers to give the three long term injuries a chance to get some game time.
“It is worth paying that rent, and then we could really look at our reserve strength as 18 of our squad had never played SuperSport Rugby Challenge before, so it was a good exercise against a good Griquas outfit.
“I am pleased with the way we stood up. The friendly against Boland [April 6 in Wellington] will probably see us at closer to the team that will start in the SRC,” he said.