It was a complete eight-man effort at scrum time
The biggest positive for Western Province from their victory over the Sharks was the performance of their forward pack at Kings Park.
The defending champions ended the regular season unbeaten with a tough 17-13 victory in heavy rain in Durban on Saturday, and coach Allister Coetzee was full of praise for their set-piece display.
Both sides scored one try apiece through Deon Fourie and Keegan Daniel, but the accuracy of visiting flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis proved decisive as the Cape side ended at the top of the log.
Coetzee said that the way his relatively inexperienced front row had stood up to the all-Bok Sharks front row at scrum-time had been inspirational.
“I think our set-piece was unbelievable,” Coetzee said afterwards.
“If you look at a young front row like Steven Kitshoff, who's been outstanding throughout the season with his accuracy. Scarra Ntubeni might be diminutive but he's unbelievably accurate emotionally and is so matured.
“Pat Cilliers was outstanding and those that came on to replace them too.
“But in saying that, it was a complete eight-man effort at scrum time. I'm really pleased we dominated that area tonight and all credit to forwards coach Matt Proudfoot,” he added.
Despite their shortfall at the set-piece, the Durban outfit still had an opportunity to snatch victory at a wet Kings Park, but substitute Patrick Lambie wasted two straightforward penalties in the sweeping rain, while Fred Zeilinga, who he replaced at flyhalf, also missed one attempt.
“The Sharks' goal-kicking wasn’t up to the normal standard, they missed quite a number of easy kicks, so we could have been in trouble as well if they kicked those penalties,” Coetzee said.
The Province boss also played down talk of hosting the final on October 26 – their first hosting of the competition decider in 12 years – and instead placed emphasis on next week's play-off meeting with the Golden Lions.
“I'm just pleased that we got the result,” Coetzee added.
“We achieved the first objective last weekend against the Lions by getting a home semifinal.
“We also wanted to badly go through this competition unbeaten and that's what we achieved tonight and with it we also managed to end top of the log.
“I think it will be foolish to talk about winning the final if you haven’t gone through the semis. The big thing for us is to now keep the feet on the ground.”