Nick Mallett

Province slow poison killed off Sharks

WP flyhalf Robert du Preez on the attack WP flyhalf Robert du Preez on the attack

What NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about Western Province's 33-21 win against the Sharks in the Currie Cup final at Kings Park.

'Well played to Western Province, it was a thoroughly well-constructed and organised win. A special mention to head coach John Dobson – he won the SuperSport Rugby Challenge trophy [earlier in the season] – and his coaching staff. Hanyani Shimange was involved with the scrums and lineouts, Dawie Snyman is the attack coach and Norman Laker does the defence. They've worked very hard with this team and have had a really successful season, despite not starting well [in the Currie Cup] with losses to the Pumas and Griquas. 

'We did say before the game that the scrums were going to be very important and they were critical in this game. The Sharks were under pressure the entire time in the scrums. I can't see how Wilco Louw does not play tighthead for the Springboks on tour. He was absolutely magnificent in this game. JC Janse van Rensburg also got the better of Ross Geldenhuys, who is a very good rugby player but has scrummaging issues. Western Province's scrum dominance gave them comfort on the exit, stability on attack and put the Sharks under pressure every time they got the ball.

COLUMN: Province scrum powers title triumph

'The possession stats were incredible – 65% for Western Province, and they completely deprived the Sharks of the ball in the second half. I thought [Huw] Jones and [Nizaam] Carr played brilliantly and [Damian] Willemse at 15 coming in at 10 was a real factor and [Robert] du Preez played well at 10.

'Just a few stats here ... The Sharks missed 17 tackles and Western Province seven, because Province held on to the ball for so long. Western Province had 71 rucks and mauls, and only 38 for the Sharks. 

'There were two key moments in this game. Jean-Luc du Preez going off with what looked like an ankle injury. That is going to be three to four weeks [out of action], which is bad for the [Boks'] end-of-season tour. He's a really good rugby player who is critical to the way the Sharks wanted to dominate this game. He is a big, strong ball-carrier. And then brother Dan, who got sent off with 10 minutes to go for coming in from the side [of a ruck] and taking a player out. It was right in front of the referee. 

ALSO READ: Du Preez in doubt for Bok tour

'The Sharks, playing at home, came out of the blocks with a lot of passion and intensity, but it was slow poison from Province and eventually the Sharks found themselves on the back foot.

'What I really liked about the way Province played was that they played a possession-based game for long periods. They were very patient. They didn't make many linebreaks, because the Sharks' defence was reasonable, but they held on to the ball and got penalties. Then in the second half, when they got ahead, there was some strategical kicking, with the wind behind them, that was very effective.  

'There's a place for everything in the game of rugby. The set piece is vital. Moving the ball, and not just taking it off nine but using it through the centres, counter-attacking well, using the width of the field, kicking when it's right to rick.

'I thought it was a skilful display by Western Province today and a 15-man, well, 23-man display. It's very positive for South African rugby when you see a side control a game in the way in which Province controlled that game away from home.'

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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