Allister Coetzee has praised WP’s resilience following their ‘special’ title-clinching victory at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Western Province’s 19-16 win saw them claiming their second domestic title in three seasons. They were in control for much of the match this past Saturday, having led by a commanding 13-0 margin at half-time. Ultimately, they would be made to fight for the result and what was their first win in a decider at Newlands since 2001.
That said, the opposition will regret their missed opportunities. The Golden Lions missed five shots on goal, and may have forced the game to go to extra time had flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converted a penalty attempt in the 80th minute.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann and captain Warren Whiteley said afterwards that WP deserved to win the clash. Coetzee expressed the same sentiment, and refused to entertain the idea that the hosts were fortunate to clinch the contest as well as the trophy.
‘Never. We were never lucky. As some smart guy once said, “You make your own luck”.’ It was a tough game, but it was clear throughout that we had a belief that we could pull through,’ said Coetzee.
‘We have experienced adversity and come through stronger,’ the WP coach continued, alluding to Province’s failure in the 2013 final, as well as the Stormers’ disastrous 2014 campaign. ‘We learned from that 2013 final, and were less emotional in the buildup to this game. I was very impressed with the composure and calm of the side.
‘If Marnitz Boshoff had got that last kick, we would have gone to extra time. He missed. That is what finals are all about, you need a sharpshooter. And in that respect, I thought Demetri Catrakilis proved a point. He had been criticised for his attacking play, but he was on target with his goal-kicking on this occasion and that’s what you want in these matches.
‘The Lions outscrummed us, but we still did very well on defence, and still did enough to live off scraps and win this cup. That says a lot about the culture within the team. To win two titles in three seasons is great, and to win one here at Newlands is very special.’
Coetzee feels that the domestic title success bodes well for the Stormers in next season’s Super Rugby tournament. The Cape franchise will be under immense pressure to improve on a poor 2014 record, which saw them finishing 11th on the competition log.
‘We have turned things around,’ said Coetzee. ‘The critics are always going to be there, but there is a great belief in this team. We’ve made a few changes over the past few months [with Gert Smal joining the union as director of rugby the most significant], and we know this province is moving in the right direction.
‘I’m not one to say “I told you so” to critics, but after all we’ve been through and after all we’ve built towards over the past 14 weeks, to win the title is really pleasing. A number of youngsters also received opportunities, so we have improved our depth, and will take some confidence into next season.’
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