Western Province coach Allister Coetzee says that his side have learnt from last year's Currie Cup final defeat. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Province headed into that match against the Sharks as overwhelming favourites, having gone unbeaten through the regular season before brushing aside the Golden Lions in the semi-finals.
In a complete reversal of the 2012 showpiece, it was the Sharks who out-thought and outplayed their opponents, eventually running out 33-19 victors. It was a forgettable end to a good campaign for the Cape-based side, and Coetzee is reluctant to see this season follow the same course.
'Last year maybe our emotions got the better of us in the final,' said Coetzee. 'Our focus right now, and on Saturday, is on getting our processes right. We've achieved our objective of getting a home semi-final, but now we need to go out and perform.'
Saturday's semi-final against the Blue Bulls will provide them with a chance to exorcise some of those demons. They've already defeated the Bulls twice this season, with their performance at Newlands one of the standouts of the campaign so far. While Coetzee admits that the hard-fought win at Loftus will bring them some confidence heading into the play-offs, he remains wary of putting too much emphasis on those results.
'The previous results have no bearing on this weekend. The Bulls have improved immensely as the season has worn on. They had their problems earlier this season, but they've got their belief back and that makes them a dangerous team.'
Coetzee took the liberty of resting a number of his frontline players for the match against the Sharks, but all are expected to be fit and firing come Saturday. The only doubt is over the fitness of Jaco Taute, who is still struggling with a rib injury sustained in the win over the Free State Cheetahs.
Coetzee says he has settled on his side, with Cheslin Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla returning from injury and sevens duty respectively. The inclusion of two of Province's most elusive runners will provide the team with a massive boost. Senatla continued his good form with a strong showing at the Gold Coast Sevens, while Kolbe will have fond memories of playing the Bulls after a Man of the Match performance earlier this season at Newlands.
However, Coetzee believes that the battle won't be won with fanciful footwork and searing pace, it will be won in the trenches.
'We need to front up and play well in all departments – set pieces, mauling, our kicking game – they all need to be on key. The most important thing is that we win the collisions. If we do that, then the rest will follow.'
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images