Cape Town - While they will continue with their attacking approach when they face English club Saracens, WP coach Allister Coetzee has stressed the importance of the set-piece ahead of Sunday’s friendly between the teams at Allianz Park in London.
The newly crowned Currie Cup champions dazzled with their attacking approach in the recently completed competition - which they won after beating the Golden Lions 19-16 in the final at Newlands late last month.
While they only scored a single try in downing the Lions in the final, it was the approach which got them there in the first place which caught the eye of rugby enthusiasts.
WP averaged four tries per game during the round-robin phase of the competition, which saw them finish atop the standings and earn the right to host a semi-final and subsequent final.
Since the latter rounds of Super Rugby, the Cape side have upped their intent to play a more expansive game, which has clearly paid dividends.
Sunday’s game against Saracens will be a festival match and while WP will keep up their positive approach, Coetzee said fans shouldn’t expect his team to throw the ball around with reckless abandon.
“We’re going to do what we’ve been doing (during Currie Cup)," Coetzee told Sport24 during a media briefing at WP’s High Performance Centre in Bellville on Thursday.
“And what is interesting is that it's the first time we'll be playing on a synthetic surface. But (from) what we’ve seen, it’s quite good conditions under foot and a bit of a faster track than normal, so we’re looking forward to play on that surface. So we will really be playing the way we have played. But it’s not going to be a game where we will just go and throw it around. It’s a proper game,” the coach stressed.
Coetzee said the battle at set-piece will be of utmost importance.
“Northern Hemisphere teams will test you at set-piece, that’s a massive thing, we will be tested there, so we will draw from the experience we’ve had against the Lions at scrum time.
“They (Saracens) are a good contesting side (at scrums) as well as lineouts. And you cannot play without good, quality first phase possession, so it’s going to be a good game, a game of good standard.
"It's well-marketed over there and Sarries are a top side with a bit of a South African flavour as well. (Former Springbok lock) Alistair Hargreaves has captained them very well throughout the season. And we’re excited to go play and looking forward to this one.
“Saracens is a top-notch team and if you look at the squad that they’ve selected, it’s a very good squad. I think they have about five or six players doing national duty, but if you look at it, it’s really a very, very strong squad,” said Coetzee.
Saracens are currently second in the Aviva Premiership standings after six matches, three points adrift of leaders Northampton.
Sunday's clash at Allianz Park kicks-off at 15:00 (SA time) and will be televised live on SuperSport One.
Likely Western Province starting team:
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Jurie van Vuuren, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Michael van der Spuy, 24 EW Viljoen