‘Not the most beautiful game to watch’, but Steven Kitshoff proud of how WP pitched up against Griquas
CAPE TOWN - YES, there were three maul tries, and the pack again won several scrum penalties, but Western Province stand-in captain Steven Kitshoff was still “really proud of the boys” for pulling off a 34-17 bonus-point victory over Griquas at Newlands on Saturday.
WP had to overcome a Griquas resurgence before and after halftime, when the visitors reduced the deficit to 17-10, and the hosts went on to score five tries to two to move up to second on the Currie Cup log – which may be temporary, as the Sharks can overtake them by beating the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The Bulls lead the standings on 35, followed by WP (31), Lions (29) and the Sharks (28, with a game in hand).
Province coach John Dobson highlighted the challenges of having to play on Boxing Day as well. “I don’t think it was ever going to be a game for the ages”. Unfortunately, people couldn’t be here, but you could sense – us having to lift the group – I think you are asking quite a lot from the guys to go… It’s tough on everybody to play on Boxing Day, Christmas yesterday, playing at an empty Newlands at a very hot temperature,” he said.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m apologising, because I don’t think our performance was that poor. But I think people sit at home and it’s great to sit in your holiday place and watch this, Province playing against Griquas, and say that was a poor game of rugby.
“I think there needs to be greater appreciation of the circumstances and all the teams, officials, everybody who is operating. As I sit here, I was very cognisant of it today.”
That is why Kitshoff, who led from the front with a typically belligerent display in the Covid-19-enforced absence of Siya Kolisi, praised his teammates for their effort.
“Very proud of the boys and how they pitched up. We spent Christmas with the family yesterday, and came here to play rugby on Boxing Day. It’s normally a day where you sit on Newlands and watch the cricket and have a couple of beers. But to play rugby, it’s a different feeling, so I’m very proud of how the guys pitched up and were willing to work for each other,” the Springbok loosehead prop said.
“The performance, three maul tries… Last week, we got stuck in at training. We want to be a team that mauls well, scrums well, dominates at set-piece.
“Even though the game wasn’t the most beautiful game to watch, it was all physical and Griquas were also quite desperate to get a win. I’m very proud of the performance and the effort on the field, but we will have to fix our mistakes that we made – and most of the penalties that were given away were unnecessary. It’s something that we will look at on Monday.”
Dobson said Kolisi, who was withdrawn from the Griquas game on match-day after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, is unlikely to be back in time for next Saturday’s crucial showdown with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein (7pm kickoff).