From semi lockdown to Currie Cup semi-final ... Western Province are ready
CAPE TOWN - With the focus on their Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks on Saturday (kick-off 4.30pm), Western Province assistant coach Dawie Snyman says their last-gasp win against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein shows that they can handle the pressure and close out games.
Speaking during a digital press conference yesterday, Snyman was confident that Province could handle high-pressure situations and seal the deal when they meet the Sharks after both semis were pushed back by a week, referring to how they managed to fight off the pressure from the Cheetahs in Bloemfonteim.
In their last run-out in the Free State, WP flyhalf Tim Swiel slotted an 81st minute penalty to snatch the win. And now, as they prepare for the Sharks, the attack coach said that they had learnt from their experiences in previous games when they let it slip towards the end.
“If you look at the Bulls game, we had an opportunity to close that game out, but we missed that opportunity,” Snyman explained.
“Against the Lions at Ellis Park, we were in a good position, but they won with that kick at the end. Against the Cheetahs, we showed we had learned from those previous two games and used our opportunities.
“Going into this weekend, it's going to come down to the last five or 10 minutes and the decisions we make in those moments. That's where we have made mistakes previously, the wrong calls at the wrong time in those scenarios. We know what works for us and how to handle those pressure situations.”
Seeing as the last time they played against the Sharks was during Super Rugby before the rugby break, Snyman added that it's going to be rather unusual meeting a team in a play-off without having played against them in the league stage.
“We've prepared for the Sharks for two games that didn't happen,” Snyman said. “It almost feels like a month that we've been preparing for them now. We prepared for them in three sessions previously and now of course the sessions this week.
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“The plans will stay the same, so that's actually nice, so we don't have to change too much. We're looking forward to playing against them.
“Last week we went into like a like a semi lockdown for ourselves just to make sure that we didn't have a spread in the squad and to make sure that everyone's available. On Sunday we got tested and we got the results, so credit to our players for looking after themselves last week.
“They worked on their fitness and running again, so this week we got on-field and started handling the ball a bit. Yesterday I thought we would maybe start a bit slower and make some mistakes, but it was a good start, so I'm happy about that as well.
“It's weird playing in a playoff match against a team you haven't played against yet (during that season), so you don't really get the chance to learn from them.
“In the previous game in Durban we made a few mistakes, it wasn't just in the Sharks game, but we struggled with our territory game against the Bulls and the Blues as well. But the stuff we learnt in that game (against the Sharks) we've worked on that.
“I think we have grown as a team a lot, and that's put us in the best position to know what it takes to win a play-off game.”