CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says it’s “desperation” for a home Currie Cup semi-final that fuelled their 31-20 win over the Sharks in Durban at the weekend.
Province, who haven’t enjoyed a great record when it comes to away games, came back from being 13-3 down at halftime at Kings Park to produce a fightback that was enough to end the hosts’ 10-match winning streak.
The first half was a frustrating one for the visitors, as they showed no appreciation for the ball - a factor that ruined a number of try-scoring opportunities.
But they were good enough in the second 40 to bag the win a second 40 that saw WP flyhalf Robert du Preez produce a big performance that included two tries.
And in the process, he strengthened the notion that he tends to perform well against his father’s outfit.
Although he was happy with his team’s work, Dobson also gave credit to the Sharks for the way they approached the game.
“I was impressed with the Sharks’ intensity at the start there - I thought for a dead rubber 20 minutes in we were in trouble due to the sheer physicality and momentum they were showing,” Dobson said.
“I think we butchered a few scoring opportunities, but I think we were just more desperate (than the Sharks), we had to get a home semi-final. I’m very pleased with the way we withstood the onslaught from what I think is the best team in the competition.
“I thought we got a little bit bullied earlier on - we gave them yards on defence and our carries weren’t getting yards. We knew we had to be more direct against them, and I don’t think either side played with much fluidity on attack. It was always going to be a physical fight, and I’m just glad we stayed in it.”
It hasn’t been Province’s finest Currie Cup campaign, and at the weekend, they secured only their second away win this season, with the other one coming in the form of a narrow 46-45 victory at Loftus a couple of weeks ago.
They’ve also lost matches that you would expect a team with WP’s personnel to win easily, and all of that added to the pressure of making it to the semi-finals.
“We were under a lot of pressure for a home semi-final. Talent wise, I think we’re probably one of the better teams in the competition, and for us not to be at home in the semis would have been an underperformance. That’s why we were so desperate,” Dobson said.
“I don’t know many other teams that would have come with the intensity that they came with in a dead rubber, so Robert du Preez senior is obviously keeping very high standards. In that first half hour we were really on the back foot, we were clinging.
“If that game had gone to 17-3, as it threatened to, I’m not sure we would have come back. Even at halftime with the drop goal I thought ‘geez, that’s a bit much’. So credit to us for doing what we did in the last hour.”
In the semi-finals on Saturday, Province will host the Golden Lions at Newlands at 2.30pm, while the Sharks will meet the Blue Bulls in Durban later in the day at 5pm.