Cape Town – After being blanked 32-0 in the second half by Griquas, Western Province’s defence and kicking strategy will receive much-needed attention in the build-up to Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against the Griffons at Cape Town Stadium (8.30pm kickoff).
WP were leading comfortably at 13-0 at halftime last Saturday on their home ground, courtesy of a Fazeel Robertson try, as well as a conversion and two penalties from flyhalf Kade Wolhuter.
But the men from Kimberley turned it around with two quick-fire tries in the second half by Eddie Fouché and Reagan Oranje, and inspired replacement George Whitehead pulled the strings with his smart tactical kicking and general attacking play to engineer a 32-13 victory.
WP coach Labeeb Levy said that they had a “hard session” in practice yesterday, and felt that their own kicking game has to improve if they want to claim their first win in three matches, having also lost to the Sharks in Durban.
“We need to just sort out our kicking stuff, when to kick… They (Griquas) got into the game with an interception (by Whitehead), when we were leading 13-0. The week before, scrums were an issue, but last week, our scrum was very stable,” Levy said.
“We need to just kick a bit smarter, choose our kick selection a bit better – where we kick, how we kick. And if you look at the age difference, we can look to possibly speed it up in order to stretch them.
“It was a little bit better, compared to the previous week (20-7 loss to the Sharks in Durban), but we put a nice programme together today. The boys can go nice and hard, as we actually gave them some time off yesterday, just to regenerate and rejuvenate. We had a hard session today, and we have our big session tomorrow.”
But the Griffons are flying high after their stunning 32-28 victory over the Blue Bulls in Welkom last Friday, and they will be aiming to claim another big scalp in Cape Town.
They have a heavy pack of forwards, spearheaded by giant lock Jaco Willemse, who are prepared to do the dirty work by hitting rucks and making big tackles, and then pouncing with a highly effectively backline, where another sizable unit in centre Marquit September will charge it up with ball-in-hand.
“The Griffons are quite a well-balanced team. They are a unit and work very well together. They are not a bad rugby team, although they came up from the First Division,” Levy said.
“What they’ve done the last three to four games, it’s gone very well – except for the Cheetahs, who knocked them out of the park. They were leading against the Sharks and Lions, and are having a good tournament.
“They were always in the game, for about 65 to 70 minutes, and they beat the Bulls at the weekend.
“So, we know we are in for a game-and-a-half, because they are matured players. A Springbok in Jamba Ulengo is playing for them, and some real hardebaarde (hard guys) – some of them are just big naturally. Their pack is quite huge. Jaco Willemse, who used to play for us, is the size of Kobus Wiese, and has his threats and weaknesses.
“So, we know we’re in for it, and are trying to plan and prepare our team accordingly… Where we want to play the game, the set phase will be part of the challenge, and how we want to execute our general game and general attack, and structure our attack to manipulate them.
“And work in defence to stop their threats, as they are quite a balanced team. But we have identified their errors that we want to manipulate.”
Levy added that he was hoping to have utility back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu available for the Griffons clash. The Junior Springbok captain missed the Griquas game with concussion, and is expected to complete his return-to-play protocols with a final test today or tomorrow, when a final selection call will be made.