CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 05: Cheslin Kolbe of Western Province during the Absa Currie Cup match between DHL Western Province and Eastern Province Kings at DHL Newlands on September 05, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Luke Walker/Gallo Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 05: Cheslin Kolbe of Western Province during the Absa Currie Cup match between DHL Western Province and Eastern Province Kings at DHL Newlands on September 05, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Luke Walker/Gallo Images)

WP must express themselves - Fleck

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Oct 22, 2014

Share this article:

Don’t give the Golden Lions any loose balls to pounce on, but also don’t creep into your shells on attack.

That was the key words of advice from Western Province backline coach Robbie Fleck to his team yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup final at Newlands.

Fleck won three titles as a player at WP and fully understands the pressures associated with the expectations of the Cape rugby public.

There is great excitement in the Mother City this week, and it’s not just because there is a final at Newlands.

Province have also played an exciting brand of rugby that has seen them combine their renowned defensive capabilities with lethal attacking play and a strong kicking game. That has seen them score 43 tries in their 11 matches in the tournament, second only to the Lions, who have dotted down 50 times.

So while both defences will be severely tested, the 39-year-old Fleck believes his players need to continue doing what has taken them to the final in the first place.

Asked if the WP management had urged the players not to creep into their shells in the final, Fleck said yesterday: “Big time. That’s something we were pretty firm about last week even. There’s heaps of pressure in playing playoff rugby in Cape Town, especially a final – as we all found out last year (when they lost to the Sharks). So the tendency for the players would probably be to get a bit nervous, to get a bit conservative, and to creep back into their shells.

“But that wouldn’t work for us. And it would be a fault on our side as coaches as well to box these players in. These guys need to play, and need to express themselves as that is what worked throughout the season. So our message to them is to go out there and play their natural game.

“I do think however that it’s a final, and there are certain plans that will be in place where we’ve got to play with a bit of structure. There’s got to be a point or an end to whatever we want to do, and we’ve got to work towards that. So the players understand that we can’t just go out there and play without making the right decisions.

“The Lions pounce on opportunities and look to fracture you, and look to pounce on loose balls and quick throw-ins. They do also score a lot of tries from broken play, so it’s two very similar sides.”

The likes of Cheslin Kolbe, Kobus van Wyk and Seabelo Senatla provide Province with serious strike-power out wide, but they are also capable of making holes in the opposition’s defence up the middle through Rynhardt Elstadt, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr and Juan de Jongh.

Add in the energy of Nic Groom and the efficiency of Demetri Catrakilis’s boot, and you have all the weapons in your armoury.

One could argue that the Lions rely too heavily on three key players – loose forwards Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel, as well as flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff – so if Province are able to mark that trio closely, they would be well on their way to victory.

But it is easier said than done, particularly as all three operate off the back of an instrumental tight-five who provide front-foot ball from the scrums and lineouts.

That is why Fleck insisted yesterday that WP can’t just bank on their game-breakers to make the difference.

“Your structured attack in a final has to be good. Our set-piece has to operate and be dominant, and we have to put phases together to put them under pressure. I like the word variety because we’ve got to keep the opposition guessing. We can’t just go out there with a complete ball-in-hand approach – we’ve got to have the attitude that territory is important, and that possession is important as well,” he said.

“So we’ve got to get that balance right, whether it’s through a good attacking kicking game or a good ball-in-hand approach, or a structured kicking game, then we are doing the right thing. It’s going to be a step-up from previous weeks, and we are going to be challenged in many avenues.

“But this team is in a good place. We’ve come a long way, and these guys are keen to play. They are a side that fights – which we showed in the Cheetahs game when we were probably down and out. We’ve had that ability to come back and win from behind, and to sustain a lead.

“But this team has shown tremendous character, and the key here for the players is that it’s about them. About the team, the mateships that they’ve formed over the last couple of months. And that’s massively important going into a final.” - Cape Times

Share this article: