Prov­ince have much to do to be Cup con­tenders

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

WESTERN Prov­ince’s 30-17 de­feat to the Free State Chee­tahs shouldn’t give coach John Dob­son too many sleep­less nights, but it did re­veal a few ar­eas that could do with some im­prove­ment.

The Chee­tahs se­cured their sec­ond vic­tory in as many weeks when they bagged the 30-17 win over Prov­ince in Bloem­fontein on Sun­day, and it’s fair to say they were the favourites go­ing into the match. So WP’s de­feat prob­a­bly can’t be re­garded as an early red flag – and that’s not only be­cause the Chee­tahs were the more set­tled team and en­joyed a very favourable home ground ad­van­tage.

Dob­son fielded a ‘hy­brid’ team of Su­per­Sport Rugby Chal­lenge play­ers and Su­per Rugby ex­pe­ri­ence.

Full­back SP Marais, wing Se­abelo Se­natla, loose for­wards Sikhum­buzo Not­she and Kobus van Dyk, tight­head prop Wilco Louw, cap­tain and lock Chris van Zyl and hooker Ra­mone Sa­muels all brought sig­nif­i­cant Su­per ex­pe­ri­ence, while Chal­lenge play­ers cen­tre Michael Hazner, wing Bjorn Bas­son, fly­halves Kurt Cole­man and Bran­don Thom­son and scrumhalves Justin Phillips and Godlen Masimla added to the mix.

There’s prob­a­bly not too much to worry about if you con­sider WP went up against a Chee­tahs Su­per Rugby out­fit (play­ing at home – where they haven’t lost since 2015), but nonethe­less, Prov­ince will have to step up in cer­tain de­part­ments if they want to pull off a con­fi­dence-boost­ing win over the Pu­mas.

Prov­ince dom­i­nated ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion in the first half, but failed to make it count. They went into the break trail­ing 17-11, as the Chee­tahs had con­verted their few chances into points. But Prov­ince’s de­fence was not up to stan­dard, and let in a few soft Chee­tahs tries, while the Chee­tahs put mas­sive pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion with their line speed.

An­other area that Prov­ince just wasn’t good enough in was the li­ne­out.

The Chee­tahs snatched a num­ber of Prov­ince’s balls at the set-piece, and it’s cer­tainly a di­vi­sion that should be given at­ten­tion to, as the li­ne­outs were also a bit of a problem in the Stormers camp at cer­tain stages of the Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion.

It’s still early days and it was WP’s first Cur­rie Cup game of the sea­son (they had a bye in round one). The team is also still try­ing out their com­bi­na­tions while tak­ing into ac­count the man­age­ment of play­ers who have played a lot of rugby this sea­son.

But one player I’d like to see fea­ture more this sea­son is Masimla. The other No 9, Phillips, who scored a fine try as he showed great body po­si­tion­ing and quick think­ing to get the ball over the line on Sun­day, has gained a bit of Su­per Rugby ex­pe­ri­ence this sea­son. And Masimla is one who should get more op­por­tu­ni­ties to show his dev­as­tat­ing abil­ity around the fringes, and his over­all skill.

In mid­field WP doesn’t have too many op­tions cur­rently, with Dan Du Plessis on the in­jury list and Spring­bok cen­tre Juan de Jongh and Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional Huw Jones’ de­par­ture, while Su­per Rugby reg­u­lar EW Viljoen and Damian de Al­lende’s need to be care­fully man­aged in terms of work­load.

So I guess not much can be said about some­one like Dan Kriel’s per­for­mance.

Again, it’s still early days. And I guess there is still room for trial and er­ror.

But the sooner Prov­ince im­prove and get their per­fect mix, be it in terms of fix­ing ar­eas that need fix­ing or find­ing the right com­bi­na­tions, the bet­ter.

PIC­TURE: BACKPAGEPIX

ONE TO WATCH: Godlen Masimla should be given more op­por­tu­ni­ties to show his abil­ity.

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