Western Province coach Allister Coetzee says he is proud of his side’s ability to cope under pressure.
The Cheetahs scored a converted try in the 74th minute of the game to draw within six points, but Province refused to relent, and defended well under pressure in the closing stages for a 19-13 win.
Coetzee was also indifferent to the fact that his side failed to convert numerous scoring opportunities, explaining that the win was their top priority.
‘I’m delighted with the four points,’ Coetzee told keo.co.za. ‘We always knew the Cheetahs were going to be a tough test.
‘They’re physical on attack and you don’t score many tries against them. I thought we showed wonderful character throughout the match by the way we defended through phases, especially late in the game when they were pushing for that final try.’
Province’s victory had much to do with their ability to turn over the Cheetahs’ ball at the breakdown when the visitors were camped in their red zone. They did this four times, and if the Cheetahs had taken their opportunities the result would have been different. In addition, they cleaned efficiently, nullifying the influence of the Cheetahs’ ground scrappers, and as a result were able to get good flow on their attacks.
‘When you play the Cheetahs you have to be very competitive there or you will struggle,’ Coetzee explained.
‘They have a couple of very good fetchers in Hendro Scholtz and Johan Wessels, but I thought we countered them well with Luke [Watson] and our other players who are good on the ground.
‘I felt we still gave away too many penalties, and that must improve. But overall I’m pleased with the way we played there, as well as at the set phases, where we rate them as one of the top three in the competition.’
Despite the victory, Coetzee stressed that they needed to maintain perspective.
‘There’s still so long to go in the competition that we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves now,’ he said. ‘We’ve progressed well and I’m pleased that some players have come through nicely, especially Tonderai Chavhanga, Juan de Jongh and Sereli Naqelevuki.’
By Ryan Vrede