CAPE TOWN - Western Province may have run in six tries in their victory over the Blue Bulls last weekend, but captain Chris van Zyl was in a no-nonsense mood at training in Bellville this week.
The Province skipper is becoming increasingly frustrated with his team’s lack of discipline at crucial junctures in the Currie Cup this season. It cost WP dearly in the defeat to Griquas in Kimberley and again this weekend when the home side held on for a 45-34 win, despite leading 42-13 at one stage.
It is not just infringements that are leading to penalties for the opposition, but there has also been a flux of yellow cards that has put WP on the back foot.
“The first thing I did on Monday was to bring up the issue of discipline,” the WP captain said.
“If you look at all our games, it’s been a bit of an issue. Although sometimes we feel that we’ve been hard done by, it doesn’t matter. We have to be on the right side of the referees and we don’t want to be giving away penalties.”
WP can’t afford to be reduced to 14-men against a powerful Golden Lions side who are renowned for their aggressive strike-runners.
“The Lions biggest thing is how direct they are and the running lines they offer. I think all their forwards, as well (as) their centres, present a big threat especially close to the rucks. That is something we have been looking at," Van Zyl said.
“I’ve played against them when you feel you just can’t hang on to them. The reason for that is that they get momentum on their carries and run great lines. It is about managing that and ensuring they don’t get that momentum. Otherwise it does get difficult."
One of the offenders from last week, centre EW Viljoen who received a yellow card just before halftime against the Bulls, stressed the importance of not letting the entire team down through lack of discipline.
“Everybody knows that maintaining discipline is a big part of rugby if you want to win games, championships. There has been a lot of focus on that,” Viljoen said.
There will be plenty of focus on Viljoen on Friday (7pm kickoff) due to the challenge that awaits him and his centre partner Huw Jones. For all the speed and flair WP possess out wide in the flying Dillyn Leyds and Seabelo Senatla, the home side will first have to contend with a Lions centre pairing that are equally dangerous and powerful.
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Harold Vorster was outstanding for the Lions in Super Rugby and will be joined by returning Springbok Rohan Janse van Rensburg. Both are explosive centres that attack the gain line and will ask plenty of questions of Viljoen and Jones on defence.
“Rohan and Harold had a brilliant Super Rugby campaign,” Viljoen said. “It’s going to be a tough match, but one to look forward to. Both teams have a point to prove.”