CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says he is expecting a “more desperate” Sharks outfit in this weekend’s Currie Cup final at Kings Park.
Province secured their fifth final in six years with a 19-5 win over the Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday, and although it was a tight one at the beginning, WP produced a more composed performance to get the win.
The Lions, on the other hand, were made to pay for their ill-discipline and multiple errors, and WP achieved their goal of keeping the visitors scoreless in the second half with superb defence that consistently put the shaky Lions under pressure.
It would also be fair to expect Province to be quite confident regarding their chances against the men from Durban after their 31-20 win over them at Kings Park last week, but WP need no reminding of the fact that the Sharks have been leading the Currie Cup pack from the get go.
WP, however, have done well to pick themselves up and perform after a group-stage campaign that included five defeats. And it was good to see them perform with intent for 80 minutes against the Lions, because that has been a bit of a problem for the Cape side this season - producing a sustained performance.
They will, however, want to have more possession against the Sharks (they didn’t enjoy too much of the ball against the Lions), and making 200-plus tackles, and seeing minimal ball - which was the case when WP travelled to Durban earlier this season - probably won’t be one of their goals either.
And Dobson also said they won’t be reading too much into their last result against the Sharks.
“I think it’s going to be the best final you can get, a Sharks-Province final is a classic,” the WP coach said. “It’s going to be a cracking final. We know they’ll be more desperate than last week.”
And it wasn’t just WP’s defence that put the opposition under pressure - they also did well at the breakdowns, while their forwards schooled their Lions counterparts for the greater part of the game.
WP couldn’t complain about their scrummaging performance either, while their contesting at the lineout was also a positive.
But one thing Dobson wasn’t very happy with after the game was their maul defence.
“I’m disappointed with our maul defence, but our contesting was good. I also thought our defence was excellent,” he said. “I was chuffed with our reaction at the breakdown, although I don’t think it’s quite where it should be.
“The mauling will be a concern for us next week. But for the rest I thought our forwards were great, we also got good return at scrum time.”
And although WP got the desired result, there were also a few injuries, with flank Jaco Coetzee and outside centre EW Viljoen leaving the field to receive medical assistance.
Dobson confirmed that Coetzee wasn’t able to return to action after his head knock, but he couldn’t provide much information on Viljoen - although he’s likely to miss the final.
In the build-up to WP’s semi-final date, Dobson confirmed that Dan du Plessis is fit and ready again after a lengthy injury, so WP shouldn’t have too big an issue in midfield this Saturday.
Du Plessis hasn’t played any rugby in a few months, but Dobson also has the option of playing Ruhan Nel in midfield - as he did against the Sharks.