Westville back on track

Westville threw the ball around in their 20-0 victory over DHS despite a downpour that hampered running rugby.

Last week against Glenwood, Westville were exposed under pressure and resorted to desperate kicks down field to alleviate the strain, resulting in a 9-6 loss. This week’s performance was a chance to rectify this, says Westville 1st XV coach Mike Vowles.

‘The plan was to keep the ball in hand and run it,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘We identified against Glenwood that we were too quick to kick possession away. This week was our opportunity to build confidence and continuity with the ball in hand.’

Westville stuck to their game plan, running the ball from all areas of the park despite torrid conditions. This was rewarded midway through the first half, outside centre Tyler Fisher crossing with flyhalf Duncan Campbell converting. Campbell added another three points to take the half-time score to 10-0. However, the half was characterised by Westville’s premature attempts to spread the ball wide without an adequate base.

In this respect, playing a game that wasn’t their natural brand of rugby, Westville put themselves under pressure. But, in a repetition of one of the few positives to stem from their Glenwood clash, Westville defended without compromise and ultimately kept DHS scoreless.

The second half saw greater continuity, but as with running rugby in wet conditions, they couldn’t find the accuracy needed to wash DHS away. Campbell slotted another penalty, and with the conversion of Westville’s second try in the final stages, they effectively exorcised their demons in difficult conditions.

‘It isn’t our traditional style of play,’ said Vowles. ‘We like to play the game in the opposition half, so we tend to lean on territorial kicking and a tighter game up front, but we were confident of coming out on top of DHS, so we saw the match as a chance to prepare for our next big clash [against Maritzburg College].’

However, Westville can feel justifiably disappointed with their finishing on the day, as two simple try scoring opportunities went to ground on either side of the half on the back of sloppy handling and rushed play. Vowles recognises this, believing the margin of victory should have been greater.

‘On the day we were 10 to 12 points better than the scoreline suggests, and in drier conditions the score would have been far greater.’

Despite the victory, Westville have hard work to do before their Maritzburg match up, with ball retention and the balance between territorial play and running rugby integral to their chances of challenging for the top spot in KwaZulu-Natal.

By Rory Keohane