Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Western Province’s powerful scrum laid the foundation for their Currie Cup final win over the Sharks in Durban.
The Capetonians overcame a 21-10 deficit to run out 33-21 winners in Saturday’s final at Kings Park.
But their scrum was dominant from the get go and the pressure eventually told on the Sharks.
“We did say before the game that the scrums were going to be very important and they were critical in this game. The Sharks were under pressure the entire time in the scrums,” Mallett said in the SuperSport studio afterwards.
Mallett had high praise for WP tighthead prop Wilco Louw and said he should start for the Springboks on their year-end tour to Europe.
“I can't see how Wilco Louw does not play tighthead for the Springboks on tour. He was absolutely magnificent in this game,” Mallett continued. “JC Janse van Rensburg also got the better of Ross Geldenhuys, who is a very good rugby player but has scrummaging issues. Western Province's scrum dominance gave them comfort on the exit, stability on attack and put the Sharks under pressure every time they got the ball.”
Mallett also highlighted how WP had dominated the statistics.
“The possession stats were incredible - 65% for Western Province, and they completely deprived the Sharks of the ball in the second half. I thought (Huw) Jones and (Nizaam) Carr played brilliantly and (Damian) Willemse at 15 coming in at 10 was a real factor and (Robert) du Preez played well at 10.
“Just a few stats here... The Sharks missed 17 tackles and Western Province seven, because Province held on to the ball for so long. Western Province had 71 rucks and mauls, and only 38 for the Sharks.”
Mallett also acknowledged that the first half ankle injury to Sharks flank Jean-Luc du Plessis was a cruel blow.
“There were two key moments in this game. Jean-Luc du Preez going off with what looked like an ankle injury. That is going to be three to four weeks (out of action), which is bad for the (Springboks’) end-of-season tour. He's a really good rugby player who is critical to the way the Sharks wanted to dominate this game. He is a big, strong ball-carrier. And then brother Dan, who got sent off with 10 minutes to go for coming in from the side (of a ruck) and taking a player out. It was right in front of the referee.”