There seems to be no end to the barrage of injuries afflicting Vodacom Western Province this season, as Neil de Kock and Attie Winter become the latest victims.
De Kock, who only played for the last six minutes of the game when he replaced Bolla Conradie is said by WP coach Kobus van der Merwe to have suffered a concussion.
â€œHe will be out for between three and four weeks,” Van Der Merwe said. “It is a pity that we lose Neilâ€™s experience now, but we have Paul Delport to fall back onto. He will come into the squad for the game against the Blue Bulls.â€
The more immediate concern for Van Der Merwe, is the loss of Winter in the tighthead berth. Winter was replaced at halftime by Brock Harris after he tore a pectoral muscle, and will miss the remainder of the season.
WP fought hard throughout the game and looked to have managed a huge upset over their coastal rivals, but a wayward line-out throw by replacement hooker Huia Edmonds led to a try that clinched it for the Sharks. Schalk Brits had been brought off as a precaution moments before, as his troublesome knee was still not 100%.
â€œSchalk was on a 50/50 call whether he was going to play or not and we initially thought we would only give him 40 minutes with his knee. He almost played 70 minutes and we thought we would put Huia Edmonds on. He is a good rugby player, but these things happen.”
Van Der Merwe believed that when Province were awarded a line-out with time running short on the clock, the scoreboard reading 25-21 to the good, they had it in the bag.
â€œI looked at the clock and I sent the instruction on â€“ there were 20 seconds left on the clock and we got the lineout â€“ maul the ball, keep it until the clock is run down and kick the ball out. We then went and we lost the bloody line-out.â€
Despite the disappointment, there was plenty to be happy with, as WP put on a great display of running rugby at Newlands.
“That is the type of rugby we want to play,” said Van Der Merwe. “It was a superb game of rugby from both sides. I think that was what the people like to see from WP. That is keeping the ball in hand and using the exciting guys we have out wide. We also have to be intelligent about it and I think that worked for us on the day.
â€œWe scored four great tries. I donâ€™t think a lot of people thought we have mauling capability in our pack and it was an outstanding mauling effort.
â€œIâ€™m really pleased with the four tries and I said to the guys in the change room we had them for 79 minutes and forty seconds and you make one silly error and you lose.”
A positive sign for the team was the way youngsters like Gio Aplon and Robbie Diack hit form for the big occasion.
â€œAs Luke (Watson) said, there are so many youngsters putting their hands up â€¦ Robbie Diack had another stormer and so did Gio Aplon. Iâ€™m very pleased about that,” remarked Van Der Merwe.
â€œEgon (Seconds) looked sharp and CornÃ© Uys was good. So I am extremely positive. Like Luke said, what doesnâ€™t kill you makes you stronger. We learnt a lot from the mistakes weâ€™ve made in the last 20 seconds.â€