Province want to retain the title

Western Province rugby coach John Dobson. Picture: Gallo

Western Province rugby coach John Dobson. Picture: Gallo

Over-the-moon with their unexpected semifinal triumph last weekend at the Blue Bulls’ fortress of Loftus, Western Province coach John Dobson admitted he didn’t need to have a stern talk to the players at halftime.

Dobson said emotions like disappointment and relief followed between the break and the final whistle.

Province, the defending champions, and the Blue Bulls were tied at 9-9 at the break after both kickers and flyhalves Tian Schoeman (Blue Bulls) and Province’s Robert du Preez kicked three penalties each even though it was Province who enjoyed the better territory and possession in the first half.

“I was disappointed to be 9-all at half-time, so relief is probably the best way to explain my feelings,” said Dobson.

“Full credit to the Bulls, they did not stop playing and they could’ve won it at the end.

“I thought we should’ve had more to show from the first half, but the Bulls defended well, so, yes, relief is probably the right way to sum things up.”

But in the second half Province created their own luck by scoring two tries, one by fullback Cheslin Kolbe who used superb handling skills to grabbed the ball with a stretched-out arm, while he also played a mayor role in the second try by reserve scrumhalf Jano Vermaak when he maneuvered a quick throw-in at the Blue Bulls’ 22 despite the attentions of the Blue Bulls wing.

“Our message at half-time was just to carry on,” said Dobson, who praised his troops for their tenacity after they were hammered at Loftus 47-29 just a couple of weeks ago but then surprised the Blue Bulls with their tenacity on defence and the manner in which they controlled the breakdowns.

With the win Province qualified for their fourth straight final, after winning in 2012 in Durban against the Sharks, losing against the Sharks in 2013 at Newlands, but then beating the Lions 19-16 at Newlands last season for their second trophy the last three seasons.

Dobson, in his first season in charge after taking over from the departed Allister Coetzee, was especially proud of the defensive effort which has let them down the last few weeks.

“To be honest, in those last 10-15 minutes (of the game) it was our defence that pulled us through.

“To come up to Loftus and not concede a try is quite an achievement and credit must go to (defence coach) Paul Treu.

“He had a hard time a couple of weeks ago and, crucially, that (the defence) also shows the character of this team.”

The Final against the Lions kicks off on Saturday at 1.45pm.




today in print

today in print