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Province in an attacking mood

Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:14
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Kolbe unlocked Aplon and Van den Heever
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Western Province are not about to employ turtle tactics, by withdrawing into their shells at Newlands on Saturday.

Major Finals, such as the Currie Cup Final between WP and the Sharks, tend to result in teams opting for a more conservative, safety-first approach.

However, Province coach Allistair Coetzee believes his team must embrace the occasion and express themselves as they have done in recent weeks.

Coetzee pointed to the Stormers' loss to the Rebels in Melbourne in mid May as a turning point for the Cape Town outfit - with the Stormers winning their next five games and WP kicking on from there to go unbeaten for the entire Currie Cup season.

"After the [Stormers' Australasian tour] is where our Currie Cup preparations really started," Coetzee told a media briefing at Newlands on Saturday.

"We focused on a few things in terms of our game plan and strategies and since [then] it has gone really well," he said.

Asked what aspect of their game showed the biggest growth since that tour, he had no hesitation in pointing to the "tremendous" strides they made in terms of their attack.

"It starts with our attacking breakdown," Coetzee said, adding: "It was a massive focus and it will be a big challenge [in the Final] this weekend."

As with most major games, collisions and set pieces will be key aspects.

However, the coach feels that it all starts at the breakdown.

"This pack of forwards have started to get a bit of dominance in every game we've played," Coetzee said, adding: "We have grown and have been more accurate.

"Also, on the defensive side of the breakdown, with Deon [Fourie] as captain and openside flank - he has made some unbelievable decisions there.

"With Duane [Vermeulen] also playing a similar role, having a go at the breakdown and knowing when to go - that contributed to the way we've handled the breakdown."

He said the arrival of one or two new players in the side made a huge difference.

"Cheslin Kolbe, he unlocked players like Gio Aplon and Gerhard van den Heever.

"[Also] the way we have been treating kick possession and turnover possession has also been a major improvement for us."

The WP mentor described their opponents as "one of the best" Sharks teams they will be up against.

"We haven't played against Frans Steyn [this year] and we haven't played against Willem Alberts," Coetzee said.

"It is a Springbok-laden Sharks team and it will be a good contest.

"If you look at the two teams [in the Final], us being unbeaten and the Sharks with the lowest number of defeats [among the other teams], it ensures there are no favourites here."

However, Province do have one advantage.

"For us, playing at Newlands, it is a place where we [Stormers and WP] have lost only one game all year - against the Crusaders [in late March].

"If you see how well the ticket sales are going, the crowd will be one area where we might get an edge in a very tight game."

By Jan de Koning

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