Western Province coach Allister Coetzee admitted that tactical blunders at scrum time is what cost his team in their 23-26 loss to the British and Irish Lions at a wet and cold Newlands on Saturday.
Jan de Koning reports for Rugby 365:
With less than five minutes on the clock the teams were tied 23-all and Province in a handy position to push for a rare and famous win against the tourists.
However, the decision to send JD Moller on to replace strong-scrummaging Wicus Blaauw saw WP concede two penalties in quick success – the second of which replacement James Hook slotted (in the 76th minute) to preserve the tourists unbeaten record.
Coetzee described it as a “tactical error”, but said he thought a tiring Blaauw had to be replaced.
“It is a simply thing, you have to get your bind up,” Coetzee told a media gathering at Newlands, adding that it was a “testing time” for Moller in the wet and rainy conditions.
“To come on at that stage and an experienced scrummager like Euan Murray [who came on as a replacement himself a few minutes earlier], they [the B&I Lions] will exploit the situation.
“All credit to the B&I Lions, they knew it was an important scrum and they came at us,” Coetzee said of the set piece that earned the visitors a win that gave them a five-from-five record on their 10-match tour of South Africa.
Describing it as “the turning point in the match”, the WP coach said his team could have scored and the Lions knew they needed a big scrum.
The WP coach admitted that it was not the result they wanted, but like captain Luke Watson he downplayed the final result and pointed to the many “positives” they will take from the game going into the Currie Cup from next month.
“You are playing against a Test side and in all areas you will be tested,” Coetzee said, adding: “I’m fairly happy with the physicality of our team.”
Watson admitted that they underestimated Lions fullback Rob Kearney’s booming boot and in the beginning kicked too much on him.
“We had strategy regards the weather, we wanted to put it behind the wings,” Watson said, adding: “We weren’t aware of the fact that the fullback had a cannon for a boot.
“We decided not to kick down the fullback anymore and with 20 minutes to go we changed and decided to pick up the pace. It was all part of our strategy.”
Watson said not too much should be made of the fact that WP lost, but rather the focus should be on the occasion.
“A lot of us are getting too caught up in the result,” he said.
“The occasion of WP being able to play against the Lions is huge.
“We weren’t 100 percent result driven,” he said of the game.
“We are looking to build momentum going into the Currie Cup and it was the British and Irish Lions, it was a fantastic occasion for all of us.
“Having said that, if we had an extra three or four points it would have been an even better occasion.”Tweet