We’re devastated to lose our last run out at Newlands, says WP coach John Dobson
CAPE TOWN – Western Province coach John Dobson says they have been left devastated by their Currie Cup semi-final defeat against the Sharks at Newlands.
The fixture was a significant one as it was the last time they would run out at Newlands. Province are expected to have completed their move to Cape Town Stadium by the time the Rainbow Cup gets underway in April.
It was a game the home side had no reason to lose.
They dominated territory and possession in the first half already and turned down a string of kickable penalties, instead kicking for touch, although the Sharks, who just made better use of the chances they had, met their challenge at the maul and went for the points early on to go 9-0 up in the first quarter. Leadership was also seriously lacking on the field.
Speaking during the post-match press conference, Dobson said that their performance and the 9-19 result ‘felt like more than disappointment’.
As legends of @WP_RUGBY pay homage to Newlands, our thoughts are with the people who made it what it was. One man in particular, who spent more than half his life, at the iconic stadium.— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) January 24, 2021
A true Champion. pic.twitter.com/xciAV48J97
“I would say it feels more than disappointment, it’s almost devastation,” Dobson said.
“It was such an important game for us and I think we let ourselves down in the second half. It’s not how we wanted to finish at Newlands and we are more than disappointed. It’s very sad.
“In the first half they defended or mauls very well, credit to them. I thought we lacked a bit of accuracy and should have got more reward from our dominance. Our discipline was poor in the second half and we didn’t defend the Sharks’ maul that well. It wasn’t a great game of rugby.”
Never mind the fact that it was a semi-final and that one would have expected WP to be hungry to play the Sharks seeing as the last time they took them on was in March last year (their other Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup games were cancelled), given the significance of the game and how they had been ‘targeting’ the Currie Cup final to give Newlands a proper send-off, at times their attitude simply showed no indication of intent or even interest to work.
Skipper Siya Kolisi acknowledged that they only have themselves to blame for the poor showing.
“It’s a horrible feeling. With the build-up that we had, only to perform like that, we only have ourselves to blame. There was no rhythm [in Province’s attack] at all, we couldn’t get going. They won all the small battles. It’s tough to pinpoint one thing. When they had opportunities, the took them. We were camped in their 22 and couldn’t score. It really is the worst feeling ever, but the way it happened makes it even worse,” Kolisi added.
“It’s really not the way we trained and spoke about the match this week. It’s horrible. We were well-prepared but we didn’t deliver when it mattered.”
While Tim Swiel has been occupying the No 10 role with Damian Willemse shifting to 15 – a role he’s settled into well – Dobson admitted that flyhalf is still a problematic area for them, especially in comparison to the way Curwin Bosch and his pistol boot handled things in Cape Town and the massive role his ability to slot kicks from almost anywhere (all three his early penalties to go 9-0 up were from 50-plus metres) plays.
“I think No.10 has been a challenge for us for a little while now,” Dobson said.
“We haven’t really settled there. We were pushing Damian and he went back (to fullback) and he has done well at the back, so we possibly haven’t got that right,”
“In the first-half Curwin was knocking one over from close to their 10m line and then you have us getting a penalty on the halfway line and having to go for touch – so it does change things a bit. It is something we have to look at.”