CAPE TOWN - Western Province defence coach Norman Laker says they’re looking forward to the challenge of facing “a different” Bulls team in Pretoria on Sunday.
Province, who secured a 55-27 win over Griquas at the weekend, are third on the Currie Cup log with three matches remaining before the semi-finals.
It’s a well-known fact that WP haven’t produced the best record in terms of away games this season - and with defeats to the Free State Cheetahs, Griquas and the Pumas away, the Cape side will be eager to turn that stat around when they run out at Loftus.
But Laker knows that it won’t be very easy - as his charges will go head to head with a team that is trying hard to master a new style of play.
“I think John Mitchell (Bulls' Executive of Rugby) has done a superb job with the side - it’s a different team. They’re well coached and they have an attacking mind set.
"They like to keep ball in hand and they have a good back three. But we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Laker said.
Against Griquas at Newlands, Province conceded a number of penalties, but it wasn’t anywhere near the unacceptable number of errors they made two weeks ago against the Pumas - nor were those penalties due to one specific infringement.
And although they will have to cut out the errors as they get ready to go into their last three round-robin games - against the Bulls, the Golden Lions and the Sharks (all away) - Laker isn’t too concerned about the team’s discipline.
He did, however, acknowledge that they will have to avoid being “over-eager” when to avoid making those mistakes, and added they are treating every game as a semi-final.
“I don’t think our discipline is a problem, I think it has more to do with concentration - like guys making unnecessary errors or not rolling away after the tackle,” he said.
“We’re taking it game by game. Every game is almost like a semi-final. We’re getting closer to being the complete team, but we need to get the balance right.”
John Dobson's assistant also praised Province for their defence whenever they are in own 22, but also acknowledged that the red zone is also where they sometimes make themselves guilty of conceding penalties.
“I have to say one thing that has been good is that when we’re in our 22, other teams don’t easily score points. But that’s also where we usually concede penalties, so we need to get the balance right and be a bit sharper here and there,” he said.
“We’re focused on ourselves and we’re trying to improve. There are still a few things we need to fix defensively.”