WP are the team to beat
Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - After their 33-16 mauling by Western Province in Saturday’s semi-final at Newlands, Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has said their opponents were 'the team to beat' in next week's rugby Currie Cup final in Cape Town.
GALLERY: WP vs Golden Lions
“You look at them and there are no areas that you can point to as areas of weakness, or areas that you can attack," said Ackermann after the match.
“Demetri (Catrakilis) controls the game very well and then they have two good locks.
“They have a few guys who have been around the block, and then you have to be good on defence if you want to have any chance of beating them.”
Province flyhalf Catrakilis controlled the game well and was rewarded with his first try in his Currie Cup career.
He ended up with a 22-point haul in the match, 17 of which came via accurate place-kicking.
Province coach Allister Coetzee graciously said the 17-point winning margin flattered his side.
The victory was well-deserved but the match threw up a few concerns, such as Province's handling error rate and early scrumming lapses, ahead of next week’s home final against fellow coastal powerhouse, the Sharks.
"We were put under a lot of pressure in the scrums but I think our maturity showed in the way we rode that and still came through for a victory," said Coetzee.
"It (the victory) may have been slightly flattering but it was nonetheless well-earned.
"It was a grind out there and victory did not come easy.
"This Lions team is very underrated and they have unbelievable attacking psyche but we stayed calm."
The victory for Province also meant that Newlands would for the first time in a decade host a final.
"The staunch Newlands faithful have had to wait for 12 years for another Currie Cup final, we we’re pleased that we made the final," Coetzee said.
"Last year we won the final but it was in Durban.
"It shows that we have progressed in many ways.
"This team is also on the threshold of history as with one match left this season, we can match the record of the 1936 WP Currie Cup team which completed a season without defeat."
Gio Aplon, who was named man of the match, said he was pleased with the overall team performance because the Province management has taken a lot of ‘flak’ for uninspiring displays over the past few weeks.
"We were able to stay within our structures and do what was required," Aplon said.
"It’s never easy against the Lions because they are so dangerous from unstructured play.
"I was just glad that there were opportunities for me to express myself but then again every player in our team put their hand today."
Saturday's Currie Cup final would mark Province's fourth final appearance since 2000.