AUDIO: Province’s tactic that curbed Bulls
REACTION: It might not be the ‘most progressive tactic’ but it deserves credit for the Western Province’s win over Blue Bulls says head coach John Dobson.
The Western Province opened their Currie Cup campaign with a 20-5 win over the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday. The Cape side outscored the visitors three tries to one.
The result is indeed a flattering considering it was not the most memorable performance from the 2018 Currie Cup finalist.
However, with this year’s competition format being a single-round a win against the Blue Bulls is of utmost importance for Dobson’s men.
“To me [the Blue Bulls] is one of the better sides in the Currie Cup,” Dobson told reporters after the match.
“A few of their players have played in the Super Rugby quarter-final three weeks ago and they played against the Pumas last Friday, while we were out of action for pretty much a month.
“We were rusty and were trying a lot of new combinations,
“Thus, the only thing for us was to get a win and that’s what we did,”
In the opening stages of the match, the Blue Bulls were the better side. They were the first team on the board when Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier scored a breakaway try. The Pretoria side’s attack which had the likes of dangerman Rosko Specman and Cornal Hendricks present certainly placed loads pressure on the Province defence.
In the end, Provinces’ defensive systems were up for the challenge, restricting the Blue Bulls’ to one try.
While the other positive for Dobson and company was the team’s pack which dominated the scrums and forced numerous penalties in the second half.
According to the stats, the side won nine scrums compared to Bulls’ five.
“We didn’t really get going on the mauls because we wanted to preserve energy and focus on the scrums on our ball. I know it’s not the most progressive tactic, but you got to play what the opposition present to you.
“I thought maybe we could’ve got a bit more reward there. Our pack did well against a really good Bulls backline.
“Earlier on the way they moved the ball, think they probably should’ve kept going stretching us coast-to-coast like they did earlier because that was a lot of pressure on us.
“With their two physical centres, a skilful for 10 [Manie Libbok] and those two strikers [Specman and Hendricks], it was tough. Having said that, I actually think we defended quite well to keep that backline to five points – it was a good effort,” Dobson added.
Western Province face another daunting task when they head to Durban to take on the defending Champions the Sharks on Saturday.
By Leezil Hendricks