Springbok-laden Western Province need to find some consistency
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CAPE TOWN - How can Western Prince not perform while they have so many Springboks in Currie Cup colours?
That is just one of the questions that can be asked after Province suffered their second Currie Cup defeat in as many matches.
During Super Rugby Unlocked, their inconsistency and failure to put an 80-minute performance together were two big shortcomings, but they were by no means the only ones. And it's two things that have carried over into their Currie Cup campaign.
While coach John Dobson would often mention that they wanted to win the territory battle – which they consistently did – what they did with that advantage has often been a problem.
Their attack, an area in which they struggled with earlier in Super Rugby Unlocked, lacked fluidity and opportunity, and while they did start showing an upward curve in that regard as the competition progressed, it also just dipped again all too often.
Their backline would often look disjointed (although they had a couple of solid performers) during Super Rugby Unlocked, and in their 22-19 Currie Cup defeat to the Golden Lions on Saturday, it was again the case. Like, how can you just let all the groundwork your forwards do go to waste?
While WP's pack has delivered – as they should, given the quality of players they have available – overall, there have also been patchy performances on defence. And then in other games, it would be watertight (like when they didn't concede a single try against Griquas).
Inconsistency has been the name of WP's game until now, that's clear.
In the build-up to Saturday's game, tighthead Frans Malherbe said WP didn't just want to rely on their scrummaging at Ellis Park, but the set-piece turned out to be the only area where they could put the hosts under pressure, with Steven Kitshoff having the upper hand over Ruan Dreyer at scrum time, although a number of penalties were awarded against them.
They struggled with their phase play, the Lions were more threatening with ball in hand, and despite leading by 10 points at one stage, they let it slip – the second game in a row they've thrown away in the final five minutes.
And then there was the poor impact from their bench after the break. Against the Blue Bulls last week, it was the same story. During the post-match press conference, Dobson said that the injuries to a number of their starting forwards picked up made it difficult to manage their game tactically and that he would look at relying on their scrum is the best way to seeing as they didn't get reward for it.
Lock Salmaan Moerat, No 8 Juarno Augustus and tighthead prop Neethling Fouche all sustained concussions. Wing Seabelo Senatla tore a knee ligament, while hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni also took knocks.
During Super Rugby Unlocked, Dobson repeatedly said their goal was to play in the Currie Cup final. But, looking at the way they've been going, their chances of even hosting a home semi-final are fading quickly.