Luke Watson conceded the fact that his side played poorly in Bloemfontein, but believes the loss was ultimately needed to initate improvement.
The Vodacom Western Province captain described the game against the Absa Currie Cup champions as an “off-day”, where nothing seemed to go right for the visitors.
“A good example of this was the passing under pressure,” Watson told keo.co.za. “Those little offloads that usually go to hand were being dropped, whereas in other games they often lead to a brilliant try. We will need to sharpen up, but won’t let one bad loss effect our style of play.
“The Cheetahs outplayed us in many areas of the game, but we also did ourselves few favours with our handling.”
The Free State forwards were rampant, proving dominant on attack and disruptive on defence, forcing countless knock ons. WP had no answer to their line-out, and were outmuscled for the most part in the scrums. However, Watson believes that there will be minimal changes to the game plan in subsequent matches.
“It was a poor performance, probably our worst of the competition. But there is no need to start hitting any panic buttons. We’ve been consistent throughout the season and have been building steadily towards the playoffs.
“A loss at this point is perhaps the best thing that could have happened to us, as it forces us to shift up a gear in the run up to the semis.”
Province have dropped down to third-place on the log behind the Vodacom Cheetahs and the Sharks. A win in each of their three remaining matches will be required if they are going to host a semi-final. WP play the Valke in Cape Town this Saturday, and need the five points to remain in the race for this coveted spot.
“We just need to settle down and rediscover our rhythm,” Watson said. “The Valke played a tough game against the Lions over the weekend, and we will be expecting them to be very physical again when they come down to Newlands.
“We are still in a comfortable position, but we want to finish at the top of the log. We have played exceptionally well this season, and although we need to cut out the errors, I don’t think we have anything to prove this Saturday.”
By Jon Cardinelli