CAPE TOWN - Western Province defence coach Norman Laker says that although their huge defensive effort in their 39-3 demolition of the Golden Lions on Friday was pleasing, he added that WP’s “dangerous” ability with ball in hand needs to be put to use.
Province treated their fans to a superb display of Currie Cup rugby against a Lions team that managed to return to Johannesburg having only slotted a single penalty kick, and although the visitors dominated possession, WP proved more clinical as they made the most of the opportunities they had to run in six tries.
WP’s defensive work obviously stole the show, but some of the tries they scored were simply spectacular - and they again showed what a dangerous unit they are when it comes to carving teams up with the ball firmly in hand.
“It was quite pleasant for us (to see the team defend like that), but you can’t make 280 tackles in every game. We’re dangerous with ball in hand, so it’s important to keep the ball in hand. But it’s also good to know that we can keep teams out with our defence,” Laker said.
In terms of defence, WP made a number of double hits to keep the Lions’ direct runners in check, and Laker explained that it is important to mix up their defence and master a number of defensive techniques if they want to consistently keep teams out.
“In the Currie Cup a lot of teams are quite physical, so it is something that we will continue to work on. We’ve decided that you have to be able to do all kinds of tackle techniques and not just focus on one, because there are going to be different threats thrown at you and you have to be able to adapt,” he said.
WP’s performance would have been especially special given the fact that they have experienced a few unpleasant moments during the 2017 competition - most notably against Griquas, where they suffered a 44-34 defeat in Kimberley.
In that game, ill-discipline, shocking defence and wasted opportunities cost the visitors dearly, so the fact that John Dobson’s men could use their few opportunities to score beautiful tries certainly has to act as a potent boost ahead of their clash against the Sharks.
“It was a difficult start to our campaign, especially against Griquas. In that game we lost a few balls and we put ourselves under pressure. But from the start we knew it was going to be all about progress. And this weekend everything just came together and worked in our favour,” Laker said.
When asked what they are planning on improving before they host the Durbanites on Saturday (3pm kickoff), Laker said: “We made 278 tackles and missed 19. So we can still improve on that and get a bit more width on defence. It’s important to improve in every single game in this Currie Cup.”