A lack of trying
WESTERN Province coach John Dobson says their try-less second half performance in their 45-34 win over the Blue Bulls on Saturday can’t be put down to “not trying”.
Province produced a spectacular first half of rugby at Newlands and scored six tries in the opening half to the Bulls’ one to go into half time with a commanding 42-13 lead, but the Bulls narrowed the gap in the second half and ran in three more tries. Province, on the other hand, played an almost entirely defensive role in the second 40 – so it was a massive positive that the hosts’ defence was a much-improved effort to what they produced in their defeat to Griquas last week.
“That first half was fantastic. The standard was so high in the first half and we were very frustrated by what happened in the second half – not with our performance, just the circumstances,” Dobson said.
“There were some really tough calls in the second half and we just didn’t have any ball. I was really pleased with our defence – the character and the physicality that was missing (against Griquas) was there tonight.”
And as many improvements as there were against the Bulls, the one negative Province just couldn’t seem to shake was their poor discipline which saw them lose outside centre EW Viljoen and replacement prop Michael Kumbirai to yellow cards.
“We weren’t planning on defending the lead, we just couldn’t get going and we started that half with 14 men against a team we knew was going to run absolutely everything. EW is one of the best defenders at 13 and it was hard to defend. But we tried our best and we were under pressure from then on,” the coach said.
“I honestly believe that the second half was not about not trying or getting sloppy or anything. I think it had to do with the discipline and the cards, a string of penalties and we just had no ball. We just had no set-piece in their half.”
Apart from what they did on attack in the first half, Province can also be pleased with their performances in other areas.
Their mauling went well, their pack manhandled their Bulls counterparts for large parts of the game, their scrummaging was excellent yet again, and their line-out also functioned well, with captain Chris van Zyl – who was superb all round – and JD Schickerling putting the opposition jumpers under good pressure.
Province also rounded off a number of attacking movements really well, but the biggest improvement was certainly their defence.