Kobus van der Merwe admits that the Cape Town side needs to improve substantially on their average performance against the Lions last Saturday.
The Vodacom Western Province coach looked on as the Lions hit back after Corne Uys’ early try with three of their own. Province replied in kind with some awesome running rugby that levelled the scores at the half, and later won the match 30-28.
â€œI must say we were not great,â€ Van der Merwe said after the game. â€œWe made a lot of mistakes. Probably the best thing about our performance was the comeback from 22-7 down and the way we played in the last 20 minutes of the first half.”
The fact that his side were not at their best but still managed to raise their game enough to win says a lot for their temperament. WP’s tries were innovative and well-constructed, but Van der Merwe believes that they were lucky to get out of this one with the points.
â€œWe made a lot of mistakes, but it is good that we can be on the winning side even though we play badly. In the Vodacom Super 14 we had the flip side of the coin, but at least the ball bounced in our favour tonight.â€
Both flyhalves missed several kicks at goal, and with a two-point scoreline, both coaches will be wondering what would have happened if those attempts had gone over.
â€œI thought they had their opportunities and we also made one or two errors that gave them soft points. But I think it was a close game that could have gone either way. Credit to them â€“ I think it was probably their best performance of the season. They really came at us in the first 20 minutes and carried the ball well.â€
One of the costliest errors of the game was when Bolla Conradie threw a shocker of a pass inside his own in-goal area. The ball dribbled away from Naas Olivier and Lions centre Doppies La Grange scooted through to dot it down for the try. Van der Merwe explained that every player is capable of a mistake, and that Conradie has been vital to WP’s success this season.
â€œBolla is key to the team. Some days you just have a bad day at the office. Heâ€™s been great for us this season. I know he will bounce back.â€
Gio Aplon got through the game without much difficulty despite missing training last week with a sore shoulder. Robbie Diack, who had another great game for WP, has recovered from the flu that saw him taken off early in the second half.
It will also be interesting to see if Van der Merwe brings back Andries Bekker or Ross Skeate for the game against Griquas this weekend. Incumbent lock Francois van der Merwe’s yellow card for tripping Andre Pretorius may see him on the sidelines this weekend, but this will only be revealed when the team is announced on Wednesday.