Western Province have a mountain to climb to get their Currie Cup rugby campaign back on track. And injuries are adding to their problems as they prepare to play the Sharks here on Friday evening.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that the Cape side are fifth on the points table after losing 13-27 to the Lions at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.
And while Springboks Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn and Odwa Ndungane have been released to play for the Sharks, four of the WP players are injured.
Centre Des Fountain has torn ligaments in one of his big toes and is likely to be out of action for three weeks.
Flyhalf Willem de Waal, hooker Deon Fourie and tighthead prop Brock Harris are doubtful starters.
Fourie needed ten stitches to sew up a torn lip and De Waal took a knock to one of his hips during the match against the Lions. A scan will be done on Monday to evaluate the damage.
Harris left the field during the second half after suffering an injury to the rear of one of his knees. However, WP coach Allister Coetzee said on Sunday it was already looking better.
The bounce of the ball robbed WP of a precious bonus point towards the end of the match on Saturday when centre Doppies la Grange seized the opportunity to score a try.
Loose forwards not up to the task
However, it could have been worse for the visitors. The Lions struggled to convert their opportunities into points.
The match proved beyond all doubt that Springbok hooker Schalk Brits was not a first-class eighthman and that veteran Springbok AJ Venter no longer had the speed to play on the flank at this level. The WP loose forwards were simply not up to the task.
Coetzee said on Sunday, “It is becoming clear that we need speed among the loose forwards.
“But at least, Francois Louw was outstanding. I know there are people who say Schalk (Brits) does not belong at No 8 but he has speed and he turned over possession for us on four occasions.
“The positives are that young players such as JC Kritzinger, Nick Koster, Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw and Dewaldt Duvenhage are getting game time. The rewards will come.”
Coetzee added, “I know the people want to see us win but take ten players out of the Lions team and see what happens then.”
The coach also grumbled about what he perceived as illegal tactics at breakdown points by the Lions but the home team deserved their victory.
“I’m still positive,” Coetzee said. “We have four home games in the second round and must move forward.”Tweet