The Sharks are better off than us
The statistics may not back it up, but Western Province coach Allister Coetzee believes the Sharks have evolved into a team using a kicking game to choke the life out of the opposition.
The Sharks have scored more tries than Province and conceded just as few, but Coetzee is convinced it will be their kicking game that will be the biggest threat when the two teams meet in the Currie Cup Final on Saturday.
The WP mentor based his statement on his observations of the Sharks in recent weeks and expects them to employ the same game plan at Newlands this week.
"After watching their semifinal [victory] against the [Free State] Cheetahs and their game against us [in the final round of league action, there is] not a lot of difference in the way they played," Coetzee told a media briefing at the team's training base in Bellville.
The Province coach said the Sharks used the "same tactics" in both those games - when WP won 17-13 in Durban a fortnight ago and the Sharks then overpowered the Cheetahs 33-22 in Durban last week.
"They want to make sure they strangle and suffocate you with that kicking game," Coetzee said.
"That is where they have evolved to, by putting sides under pressure with a kicking game and look for the poor kick back and counter from there."
This pre-Final message comes in the wake of a season that saw Province score 23 tries in 10 league matches and conceded 21. In their semifinal against the Golden Lions the try count was two-one to WP.
In contrast the Sharks scored 28 tries and also conceded just 21 in their 10 league matches, while in their semifinal win over the Free State Cheetahs the try count was three each.
The Sharks are also ahead of Province on the list of best offensive teams - a list topped by the Lions with 342 points at an average of 31.09 per match. The Sharks are second (304; 27.64 per match); followed by the Cheetahs (284; 25.82) and Province (287; 25.27).
However, there is simply no doubt who the best defensive team is.
Western Province conceded just 217 points (19.73 per match), followed by the Sharks (245; 22.27) and Cheetahs (271; 24.64).
However, Coetzee believes the Sharks' kicking games works because opponents often respond with poor return kicks.
"With [Springbok] Patrick Lambie in their mix [playing at flyhalf], the Sharks are better off [than us] in the kicking department."