CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says it’s “frustrating” that they defended so much in their 20-21 defeat to the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.
A late converted try by Sharks fullback Inny Radebe saw Province lose a home fixture that Dobson last week described as a “non-negotiable” if they want to secure a home Currie Cup play-off spot, and there were a number of things in addition to their mostly defensive role that Dobson wasn’t too happy with.
Province’s impatience with ball in hand ruined a number of good opportunities, and the fact that they conceded a number of costly penalties didn’t help either.
The hosts were reduced to 14 men when Steph de Witt was sin-binned for cynical play, and the Sharks were also awarded a penalty try after Province collapsed a rolling maul close to the try line early on.
After that, WP looked good with ball in hand as they produced a decent running show, but it was the Sharks who Dobson believes were more “clever”.
“It’s a massive frustration for us, we lost lineouts, gave away penalties and when we got the ball we were sort of anxious and we messed it up. It’s something we need to sort out really quickly,” Dobson said.
“I don’t know what our tackle count was, but again, it must have been over 200. And that’s not the way we want to go. Our physicality wasn’t where it’s been over the last few weeks. We have to fix this.
"We have to get the ball through more phases and our game management was poor. The Sharks were more clever - they were territory-based and direct, and they had a good kicking game. The Sharks deserved to win, we didn’t. It’s frustrating that we’re defending so much at the moment.”
To make matters worse, WP could be without hooker Scarra Ntubeni for the remainder of the competition after sustaining a hamstring injury in their loss to the Sharks.
Ntubeni made his return to play only a few weeks ago after he snapped his Achilles tendon last year and impressively made his way back after a lengthy injury lay-off, and Dobson said that the loss of the “top hooker” is a big blow for Province.
“Scarra injured his hamstring quite badly, I’m not sure if he’ll play in this Currie Cup again,” Dobson confirmed.
“But it’s not so much the Currie Cup that’s important, it’s poor Scarra. He’s just getting back and he’s such a presence in this team. He’s really physical and he’s a top hooker in South Africa. I really feel for him.”
Dobson also said that their game management is an area that needs improving, and added that although Damian Willemse didn’t enjoy a standout bout when it came to making his out-of-hand kicks, the WP coach said that the young flyhalf offers value that deserves backing.
And he showed a glimpse of that attacking value when he created WP’s second try with good hands and even better footwork to get the ball to flank Jaco Coetzee, who also showed his skill to make it to the try line for the five-pointer.
“In the first half we lost the kicking game quite badly, especially with the contestables.”
“I think it’s just our game management. There are a couple of young guys in key positions and we need to educate them on what we want from them.”
“Our kicking game was poor. We want to back Damian, that’s why we kept Rob du Preez on the bench for so long. Damian’s got real, real X-factor, so you don’t want to take him off and lose that X-factor. We’ve just got to work on our kicking game.”