Cape Town – It was not performance that sounded a Currie Cup championship warning but the victorious Western Province showed their attacking prowess in their 27-14 victory over the Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday.
Speaking after the match, Province coach Allister Coetzee said the importance of starting well was once again underlined.
“Later in the match the Lions put us under tremendous pressure and there were not many opportunities again,” Coetzee said.
“It cost really hard work for us to survive in what was a tough game.”
The Golden Lions found themselves down 14-0 after only 17 minutes play but as they fought back impressively they were never composed enough to avoid the defeat.
Apart from Province’s strike ability, their discipline was vastly improved and for the first time in three matches they did not cop a yellow card.
They did a great job in keeping down the penalty count and, very impressively, they surrendered less than 10 penalties in the match, another first for the side this season.
Despite a commendable performance on defence, Coetzee said his side missed tackles but he was pleased that they kept the penalty count down.
“We were under a lot of pressure especially after half-time but we had scrum stability, so much so that we held our own even when we were on our own goalline,” he said.
“We did not get a bonus-point try but it was equally relevant that we prevented them from getting a bonus point (for losing by seven of less points) when the score was 20-14 with a few minutes playing time left.”
One area where the hosts excelled was the breakdown where loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Nazeem Carr worked like trojans.
Carr was superb in providing the link for backs and forwards to dovetail splendidly on attack, while Kolisi poached valuable turn-over ball as well as slowing down the Lions’ recycling efforts at the breakdown.
“Siya’s game is improving with each game and he is making good decisions,” Coetzee said.
“Nizaam was good again today and the time has come to give him a break. He’s played non-stop since the start of Super Rugby.”
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said impatience was the main factor that contributed to his side losing their unbeaten record.
“We played well enough but we failed to take advantage of the (scoring) chances we created because of impatience,” Ackermann lamented.
“The effort was there but we lost structure. It was whole lot of small things that we didn’t do right that cost us the match in the end.
“When we lost patience, our execution was also not right.”
Ackermann said his side needed to discover the fine balance between running with the ball and kicking.
“We saw near the end of the match that when we kicked upfield, Western Province came back running hard at us to score,” said Ackermann.
“It turned out, that kick denied us a bonus point because the try stretched out their lead from six to 13 points.”
For the second successive week, Province emerged from a match without injuries and it looks like the newly-found training strategy was playing dividends in terms of keeping players healthy.
Next Saturday, Western Province will be away to the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, while the Lions play Eastern Province Kings at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, in Port Elizabeth. – Sapa