London - It wasn't the best result for Western Province in London on Sunday, but it should not detract from the occasion and experience.
That was the view of WP head coach Allister Coetzee after the newly-crowned Currie Cup champions suffered a 46-22 defeat to Saracens at Allianz Park on Sunday afternoon.
WP started the match strongly, leading 3-0 after four minutes and making all the play. However, Saracens scored two quick tries - off WP errors - to take the lead and, later, a 26-8 advantage into half-time.
WP staged a fightback at the start of the second half to claw their way back into the game at 26-15 down, as flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis scored his second try, but two Saracens penalty goals - crucially - stretched their lead again before the start of the final quarter.
Coetzee told the WP Rugby website: “Yes, it wasn’t an ideal result, but it was a great occasion for WP Rugby and the players to represent Western Province in London.
“We played well in patches, but we made a few mistakes at key stages of the match and Saracens punished those silly errors - that was a big lesson for us. I thought there were plenty of positives, like our scrum, but it wasn’t to be in the end - although it was a great experience for many of our young players.
“I also thought all the new guys stood up well,” added Coetzee.
“It was important for them to get a taste of playing for this team in what was a unique game in new conditions - both weather-wise in the lead-up and playing on an artificial playing surface - and, of course, going up against a quality Saracens team with 10 full internationals.”
The match against Saracens was the final outing for Western Province in a busy, but successful 2014 season for the Cape team, who will soon turn their attention towards the 2015 Super Rugby season.“Nobody likes losing, but I really think this trip was a worthwhile experience for us all - both on and off the field,” said the WP coach.
“The majority of us will be flying home tonight (Monday), but some of the players will be staying on and some of the coaches will be attending a leading sports conference in London.
“The players (now) have two weeks off before we turn our attention to the Stormers’ (Super Rugby) pre-season training, which starts on Monday, November 24.”