Coach predicts tight finish in race for semis
Following his side's 25-19 Absa Currie Cup victory over the Sharks on Saturday, Western Province coach Allister Coetzee believes the fight for the title will be decided by small margins as the competition heads toward its conclusion.
"The victory was important because in order to challenge for the title you must win your home games, and that's what we did tonight," said Coetzee after the game at Newlands in Cape Town.
"The matter of a bonus point in this competition has become a dog fight but it is important to keep winning games.
"We showed good attitude tonight because we wanted to win so much.
"With this performance we showed great intent when we had the ball in hand."
After leading 15-0 at halftime, WP continued to destroy the Sharks' scrums and bossed the lineouts, yet they were unable to stop the visitors from scoring three second-half tries.
The Sharks outscored WP 19-10 in the second half, underlining the Cape side's vulnerability after the interval.
"Our set-piece worked well and our scrums have improved," Coetzee added.
"We were good at the breakdown and that meant a lot because Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, and Deon Fourie were up against Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel and Keegan Daniel. I thought our loose-trio was phenomenal.
"There are still concerns about our ability to exit the opposition half and again it was a problem tonight.
"If was soft moments in our game that allowed them back in the game (to score three tries)."
Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson admitted that there was a sharp contrast between his team's first and second-half performances.
"We were very poor in the first half," said Macleod-Henderson.
"In the first half, we were not at the game. In the second half we were a lot better and then we stood up physically to them.
"Our scrums were not as we wanted it to go and our set-pieces were not functioning. It was a very disappointing outing for us."
Meanwhile, WP skipper Deon Fourie said his team's inability to close out the match in which there were so many opportunities to secure a fourth-try bonus point was a source of concern for the Cape outfit.
"Once again it was frustrating that we were unable to get a bonus point when we had so many opportunities," said Fourie.
"It is just we're lacking in the final pass or catch that robs us of a fourth try. It is something we're still working on."
WP moved to the top of the log at the expense of the Sharks, and travel to the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld next week.