CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson might not be sweating over his team’s Currie Cup log position anymore, especially after their emphatic win over the Golden Lions, but there are still a few areas that WP want to get right ahead of their match against the Sharks.
Province didn’t have the best of starts to the competition after winning the inaugural SuperSport Rugby Challenge trophy and being rewarded for a flawless season, and a shock defeat to Griquas in Kimberley had Dobson emphasising the importance of winning home games.
And they did that. They racked up wins against the Pumas and Blue Bulls, and their latest one over the Johannesburg team at the weekend saw WP show off as they seemed to have learned from the mistakes that they paid for in their earlier encounters.
Last Friday, WP had much less possession than the Lions, but they made full use of the chances. They got to run in six tries and limit the visitors to only a three-pointer to secure a 39-3 victory.
They were massive on defence, and although their solid defence must have been a very pleasing aspect for WP’s coaching team after their poor defensive display against Griquas and an improvable one against the Bulls, defence coach Norman Laker would like to see Province do more with ball in hand against the Sharks.
Against the Lions, WP made a number of double tackles and, this weekend, Laker would like to get a bit wider on defence.
The Lions did, however, manage to find some space out wide, but Laker said that the two-man tackle approach couldn’t be blamed for taking away some of their width and making them more narrow on defence, but attributed the Lions’ leeway out wide to “lapses in concentration”.
And, of course, he wants to see the team focus for a full game against the Sharks on Saturday (3pm kickoff).
“We can get a bit more width on defence, but that happens when the guys get a bit tired, and if you make that many tackles you will miss one here and there,” Laker said.
“I wouldn’t say that came from making the double hits (the Lions finding space out wide), it was maybe just a lapse in concentration or individual mistake, but it’s not a major thing.
“I think we just need to concentrate for the full 80 minutes. It’s important for us to improve in every single game of this Currie Cup campaign.”
But it wasn’t just WP's defence and clinical attack that was worthy of praise against the Lions - their set-piece also functioned like a well-oiled machine - and it’s something that lock JD Schickerling wants to continue against the Sharks.
“The lineouts can’t always go perfectly, but I think that’s a real strong point for us at the moment and we can lay a good attacking base from it,” Schickerling said.
“And we will definitely keep the pressure up at the lineouts and scrum time."