Discipline and not revenge will be the main thought on the minds of Western Province’s players ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup showdown with the Blue Bulls at Newlands, coach Allister Coetzee says.
Cape rugby fans have endured two heartbreaking defeats by the Bulls in the last eight months, with Province being denied in the Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands last October, and the Stormers not being able to finish off a superb Super 14 season in style when the Bulls came out on top in the final at Orlando Stadium in May this year.
The Cape Times reports that Province are now riding high in the Currie Cup, where they are unbeaten after five matches. Their biggest test of the season came last week against Griquas in Kimberley, but the 50-3 rout means that the Streeptruie will only face a true examination this Saturday when the Bulls roll into town.
The defending Currie Cup champions haven’t had a perfect start to their season, going down 34-28 to the Sharks in Durban, while once again losing to the Free State Cheetahs 25-23 at Loftus. And they just held on for a 43-38 win over the Leopards in Pretoria last week.
“We are not reading too much into that Leopards game last week. They will have the confidence from winning the Super 14 final against us. But we are not talking about revenge this week. What we have learnt from the Currie Cup semi-final and the Super 14 final is that discipline is vital against the Bulls,” Coetzee told the Cape Times yesterday.
“In both those matches, we fell behind early on and it was difficult to get back into the game. We gave away too many penalties. In the semi-final, we were 12-0 behind and, even though we led 19-18 in the last few minutes, our discipline let us down again and we conceded a late penalty to lose 21-19.
“In the Super 14 final, we were 16-0 behind (after 26 minutes), and it was unlikely that we would come back from that. So, we must make sure that we don’t concede too many penalties in the first half.
“And we have been getting better in that respect. Our average for penalties conceded is now under 10 per match, so that’s good going. We must just keep that up on Saturday.”
Province have lost three Springboks in Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh and Francois Louw who played against Griquas last week, but Coetzee said that if any of them are released by the Bok management on Friday, they would be considered for the Bulls clash.
“It all depends on what we are trying to do against the Bulls. But they are Springboks, and if we don’t change too many things this week, then any of them who are released will play,” he said.
“It is not a major disruption to lose them this week, as we won three games on the trot at the start of the season without them. We will definitely miss them, but we have seen the impact the youngsters have made in their absence.
“If the Boks don’t play, then it’s another great opportunity for some of the youngsters to make their mark against the Bulls.”
One of those youngsters could be talented loose forward Nick Koster, who made a noticeable impact when he came on against Griquas last week.
Koster was touted as the next big thing in South African rugby when he made his Currie Cup debut in 2008, but the 21-year-old has been hampered by injury and last year’s ill-advised experiment at wing for the Stormers in the Super 14.
He sustained a serious knee injury against the Bulls at Loftus, and has been working his way back slowly this year as a loose forward for the WP Vodacom Cup and under-21 teams. Now may be the right time to give him a starting berth.
Fellow youngster Rynhardt Elstadt, 20, started the first four games in the Currie Cup until Louw returned last week, but did not make much of an impact.
“Nick played well when he came on in Kimberley, while Rynhardt started the first few games for us. So, I have to make a decision between the two of them to replace Flo,” Coetzee said.
“With Gio not available, JJ Engelbrecht and Fabian Juries will be considered at wing, while Tim Whitehead or Morgan Newman could replace Juan de Jongh.”
Coetzee added that he would like to see his team cope better with the high ball against the Bulls. “I think our reception of high kicks can improve, while our work at the kickoffs must also get better. But we also want to improve on things that have been working well, such as the defence, while the attack is getter better every game,” he said.
“I said after the Pumas game that we must put two halves together, and I was pleased to see that against Griquas. We played for 80 minutes and got a great result.”Tweet