This Lions team know how to win
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee insists they won’t underestimate the Golden Lions in Saturday’s semifinal at Newlands.
The Cape side convincingly beat their Johannesburg counterparts 36-23 at the same venue in the teams’ previous clash just a fortnight ago.
It was Western Province’s most impressive performance of the year and their solitary bonus-point win of the season.
Coetzee, however, stressed that the unbeaten defending champions won’t make the cardinal error of taking the Lions lightly.
“To underestimate the Lions would be the biggest mistake ever,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“This Lions team know how to win. They actually played poorly and won against Griquas last weekend. They came from behind and in the second half they’ve been the side that up the intensity and put a lot of teams under pressure, so I’m under no illusions that we have to be careful and not underestimate the Lions.
“I have huge respect for the Lions and for the way they can attack and hold onto the ball. They can score points easily, so we have to be accurate, play within our systems and make sure we produce the best performance of the season.”
Western Province’s pack were instrumental in the 17-13 win over the Sharks at Kings Park at the weekend, with their young front row impressing against the Durban side’s all Springbok front three.
Forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot was understandably pleased but called for more improvement against what he considers to be a solid Lions set-piece side.
“We’ve been striving to develop an attitude of excellence around the set-phase and it’s starting to bear fruit, but now you add the pressure of a semifinal and you start galvanising yourself,” said Proudfoot.
“It was a step in the right direction and we’re preparing for another big challenge. The Lions are a good set-phase team, so we’ll have to be smart in what we do and be accurate.
“I wasn’t happy that we struggled to set mauls [against the Sharks]. We were looking for a bit more physical dominance but we’ll work on that this week. We’ve got some good line-out options and we’d like to utilise them.”
Proudfoot feels young loosehead Steven Kitshoff, a key cog in the Western Province scrum, has grown in stature and improved in leaps and bounds this season.
“He’s still eligible for Under-21 rugby and is playing with such maturity, which is remarkable. The Currie Cup has really served its purpose for him and next year’s Super Rugby is going to be a big season for him,” he said.