AUDIO: Province plan a Newlands shut-out
CURRIE CUP SPOTLIGHT: The Blue Bulls can expect a more determined and ruthless Western Province outfit when they go head-to-head in the semifinal at Newlands on Saturday.
Province required just one half to record a bonus-point 34-7 win over the Bulls in Pretoria in the last round of league action this past weekend.
Some pundit roundly mocked the Bulls, suggesting the hosts can be glad adverse weather put an early end to the slaughter.
If the Bulls thought that is as bad as it gets, they are in for a rude awakening.
Western Province defence coach Norman Laker believes his side was far from perfect and said they are aiming for a total shut-out.
Province has been the most prolific try-scoring team in the competition – with 38 five-pointers in six outings, at an average of more than six tries per match.
The only other team that has scored more than 30 tries is the Lions – 34 at just under six per match.
However, Province also has the stingiest defence – just 16 tries in six matches, at less than three tries per match.
That, the latter figure. is the number they would most like to bring down – to a zero.
“We only conceded one try in 40 minutes,” Laker said of the team’s defensive effort in the testing conditions in Pretoria last week.
“If we can keep that up for 80 minutes, I would be a happy man.”
Laker admitted the semifinal will be a tougher test than the Loftus rout last week, because teams always raise the bar in play-offs.
“I know it is a cliché,” he told a media briefing, adding: “It is a once-off opportunity.”
While they are determined to improve their defensive effort, they are not going to abandon their expansive approach.
“We will continue how we play – that is who we are and what we stand for,” Laker said.
“We must ensure defence is perfect for play-offs, because that could decide the game.
“We also pride ourselves on our defence and I must compliment the players on how hard they work for each other.”
However, he felt they are “not perfect” yet, because they conceded a try last week.
“There are a few things we need to improve on.”