Young WP backs a shining light

Tue, 13 Aug 2013 08:14
Large pat howard break.jpg630 Large pat howard wp

Western Province assistant coach Robbie Fleck feels the performance of their young backline was the most encouraging aspect of their game at the weekend.

Western Province assistant coach Robbie Fleck feels the performance of their young backline was the most encouraging aspect of their game at the weekend.

Fleck on Monday said the defending champions let themselves down in their 24-all home draw with arch-rivals the Blue Bulls on Saturday.

But looking at the positives, Fleck said the new-look backline showed plenty of promise.

"For a young backline I thought we played really well, it's just a pity we didn't get enough possession," he said.

"In the first 20 minutes we really had them at sixes and sevens, our general attack worked nicely and we were in good shape. We stretched the Bulls in that regard and the first try was probably the best we've scored in a long time."

Fleck said the halfback combination of Louis Schreuder and Gary van Aswegen controlled the game well for 60 minutes, before the latter made some uncharacteristic errors.

"Louis had a very good game. He took the leadership role well and executed his gameplan perfectly. Gary's general attack was good but he made four crucial errors in terms of his kicking game, but it's a nice combination."

The former Springbok centre was full of praise for the new midfield pairing of Damian de Allende and Pat Howard, saying, "I'm very happy with the first start between the two of them. Pat had a good debut. He scored a brilliant try and had one or two nice runs outside of that.

"Damian was a monster in midfield - he was phenomenal. This kid is just getting better and better every week. He's in a leadership role now and he's taken that to heart.   

"If Damian can keep performing the way he does, there'll be good opportunities for him in the future."

Fleck added that he was impressed with BlitzBok and Baby Bok speedster Cheslin Kolbe and believes it was the right decision to play the rookie on the wing and the experienced Gio Aplon at fullback.

"He's [Kolbe’s] our x-factor and he had a great debut for us. Every time he had possession he showed a bit of magic, it's just unfortunate he had to come off due to injury," said Fleck.

"Fullback is his [Aplon’s] preferred position and he had another good game. His workrate is phenomenal off the ball and he's creating opportunities. He's directing traffic at the back there.

"Cheslin is going to get his opportunity at 15 but right now Gio is the man in charge. We need a bit of seniority and leadership at the back and Cheslin is quite happy on the wing."

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Ulster v Munster 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
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Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
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Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
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