Currie Cup

WP's first half effort hailed

2014-10-19 17:04
Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Western Province's good start and 25-10 half-time lead effectively put the match beyond the reach of Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands, in Cape Town, on Saturday.

Winning 31-23, Province followed their script and converted gifted possession into points were resolute in defence under pressure.

"It was a very pleasing result and we saw today why it is so important to start well," Province coach Allister Coetzee said.

"Our plans have worked well and we fronted up when defending their mauls. We made every collision count."

Last week, Province rested all but two players in Saturday's starting line-up and Coetzee said last week's team selection was justified.

"The decision to rest players was vindicated and we are now up for a third final in succession.

"The team had to deal with another concern because the Province Under-19 and Under-21 teams had earlier won their semi-final matches and we were looking to make it three in a row. It will be great to be back at Newlands next week for the final."

Coetzee paid tribute to the way Province retained their composure in the second half when the Bulls held the whip hand for sustained passages of play.

"This player group has matured a lot and they made good decisions. We didn't panic under pressure and our play didn't fall into a rut. A lot of credit must go the captain and the leadership in the squad," said Coetzee.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said his team had still harboured hopes of victory despite trailing 25-10 at half-time.

"We still backed ourselves after the break. As far as we were concerned, anything was possible," said Ludeke.

"It's a pity we didn't manage a try after half-time when we kept play in the Province 22-metre area but, as it turned out, we only came away with two penalties.

"Their defence kept us out and going forward now we know we need to work on things like our finishing and variations on attack from first-phase."

Ludeke would not be drawn into the suggestion that Handre Pollard could have made a difference if he had started out at flyhalf.

"We still back our selection calls although we saw the difference Pollard made when he moved to No 10," he said.

"But we were up against a home team that had a good all-round game. When you concede two long-distance tries the way we did, it is very difficult to come back, especially when you're away from home.

"We have grown in belief in recent weeks but Province have been playing consistently well this season."

The Bulls did not dominate upfront as expected, and Province skipper Juan de Jongh said the performance of his forwards was the key to their victory.

"All credit must go to our forwards because they gave us a good ball supply. We knew the Bulls would take us on upfront but our forwards did well, and showed good discipline," said De Jongh.

Bulls captain Deon Stegmann said the Bulls were thrown out of their stride by Province's scoring strikes in the first half.

"Province caught us off guard at the start and we battled to impose ourselves on the match after that," Stegmann said.

"The third try (by Nic Groom) was quite a setback because it was difficult to deal with a quick tap and go when you're five metres from the tryline."

Ludeke predicted a "huge final" between Province and the Golden Lions next week.

"The Lions have got a game that can upset any team although it is a huge battle for any side coming here (to Newlands)," said Ludeke.


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