Allister Coetzee says WP will need to be more accurate if they want to overcome the humiliation they experienced against the Lions a fortnight ago.
In their second last round-robin fixture, Province suffered their biggest loss of the tournament at the hands of the Lions as they were thumped 42-25 in Johannesburg. The hosts were rampant on attack, running in five tries against the WP defence, which is usually the most solid part of their game.
And this wasn’t a rare occurrence.
WP currently have a six-year losing streak at Ellis Park in the Currie Cup. Their last domestic victory there was a 38-23 win in 2005. In last year’s tournament, the Lions also gave Province their biggest hiding – a 46-28 thumping which saw Elton Jantjies shine at flyhalf.
That said, WP will boast six Springboks in their match 22 for the semi-final clash against the Lions this Saturday. This will be a big boost for the Cape side, as a Bok-laden Sharks side proved with their 53-9 drubbing of the Lions in Durban last weekend.
However, Coetzee believes his team will have to focus on their own game to end their Jozi curse and qualify for back-to-back Currie Cup finals.
‘We have to ensure we are accurate in the way we execute our game plan this Saturday,’ Coetzee told keo.co.za. ‘This is the play-offs. There are no bonus points to chase, so we have to keep things simple. We have to make sure we have the better possession and territorial percentages.
‘Our scrum and defensive game are two things we need to work on. We weren’t happy with our scrum against the Pumas and will have to improve on that. That last 20 minutes in our defeat to the Lions two weeks ago also still hurts. We were humiliated. Our defence needs to be better; that will depend on our execution and decision-making on the day.’
Coetzee also added that there wasn’t much significance to the Lions loss to the Sharks last weekend.
‘With their top spot on the log already secured, [head coach] John Mitchell made some changes to his team to give other players opportunities. He’ll have his strongest team facing us this weekend.’
Skipper Schalk Burger, one of the six Boks in the team, said the key battle will be between the forwards.
‘It’s a cliché, but everything starts up front,’ Burger also told this site. ‘We have to set the platform for our backline. We weren’t totally happy with our performance against the Pumas, but the guys are fired up for the match against the Lions. The team that makes the least mistakes will win the game.
‘This is finals rugby, and it’s never nice to lose. We haven’t won the Currie Cup since 2001, and I’ve been there through all those disappointing seasons. Whether our defeats were because of bad luck, bad timing or bad rugby, I’m hoping things will go our way this year.’
By Gareth Duncan