Western Province-Cheetahs: 'It was like trench warfare’
CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says their penultimate regular Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein “felt like a Test match”.
Province secured a 31-29 victory in a thrilling contest in the Free State at the weekend, and after leading 17-9 at the break, the Cheetahs produced a massive fightback – courtesy of Frans Steyn’s boot and two quickfire tries in the second 40 – but WP flyhalf Tim Swiel connected an angled penalty in the 81st minutes to ensure that this trip to Bloem was a successful one.
The win saw Province retain second spot on the standings with 35 points. The Bulls’ superior points difference has them sitting pretty at the top (also on 35), while the Lions are in third (33) and the Sharks in fourth spot (33).
The log can still be tweaked (in terms of who gets the home semis) with the Bulls’ carry-over match against the Lions taking place on Wednesday evening in Pretoria, other than that, the last-four berths are all spoken for, with the Cheetahs having fallen out of contention with their loss at the weekend.
“It was a strange game like that. For us, it felt like a Test match and the way rugby is now between those two No 10s, there is a terrible war of attrition,” he said after the game.
“It’s like trench warfare and the penalties are so expensive. If you concede a penalty to guys like Frans Steyn or Tiaan Swanepoel, it’s three points or they are going to kick in the 22, as happened today (Saturday) and they are going to score a maul try.
“Teams are not playing rugby in that area, which is not a great product in that respect,” Dobson added.
Province’s scrum was a big difference in the game, and the Cheetahs didn’t do themselves any favours with their error-strewn performance, which saw the game largely become a battle of the boot, with both Swiel and Steyn contributing seven successful kicks at goal during the game.
“At the start of the season we identified this as probably our hardest game because the Cheetahs are playing for so much more,” said Dobson.
“They are playing for their futures and their pride, so we knew playing up here on January 2 was going to be a really tough game.
“The Bulls have lost here already, so it was a really tactical game and a real South African derby. That was a real Test match in terms of the Currie Cup. It was a really tough game of rugby. To emerge with the win was fantastic for us.”
Western Province will face the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday, kickoff 7pm.