Warren Whiteley says the Golden Lions had enough chances to win the Currie Cup final and don’t blame Marnitz Boshoff for the missed penalty at the death. JON CARDINELLI reports.
In Saturday's domestic decider at Newlands, Boshoff had an opportunity to tie the game at the end of regular time. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Lions flyhalf hooked the penalty attempt wide, and this miss allowed Western Province to hang on for a 19-16 win and claim the Currie Cup title.
It was a bad miss, but one of five on the day. Boshoff missed four attempts in all, while his teammate Ruan Combrinck missed one.
That last wayward kick has been highlighted as game-costing, although the Lions clearly feel that they let themselves down on more than one occasion.
‘There is always a lot of pressure on a guy in that position, but if you think about it, we had so many opportunities,’ said Lions skipper Warren Whitely. ‘WP put us under pressure in the first half, where our intensity wasn't quite there. The reality is that it’s a team game, and you can’t blame a loss on one player.’
When Boshoff missed that kick and referee Craig Joubert signalled the end of the game, Whiteley raced across the field to console his flyhalf. Whiteley told the media afterwards that the team learned a lot in Saturday’s final at Newlands, and that whatever criticism comes their way, they will face it as a team.
‘You guys will probably think this sounds stupid, but there’s a lot of love and respect amongst us. I was feeling for Bossie in that moment, I could see he was disappointed. But it’s not about putting it on one guy, it's about taking the loss as a team.
‘We’ve come a long way if you think about where we were 12 months ago [the Lions were relegated from Super Rugby in 2012 and suffered significant setbacks in terms of personnel and resources in 2013]. WP were the deserved winners on this occasion, but we are a better side now than we were 80 minutes before.
‘Our coach has created a great culture of brotherhood and excellence,’ Whiteley continued. ‘We’ve had to fight our way back and while there have been some successes, there have also been some losses.
'We will be better for the experience and we know that there are bigger things to come. Twenty guys played in their first Currie Cup final at Newlands, so we will take some experience and confidence into the 2015 season.’
Coach Johan Ackermann agreed that the Lions had not taken their chances in the final. Ackermann also felt that the result would benefit the team in the long run.
‘Everybody will look at that last kick and say it was one guy who didn’t win it for us, but we shouldn’t have been in that position,’ he said. ‘We should have taken our chances, especially in the first half.
‘We learned a lot from this. WP defended very well and took their chances on the day. I am a bit heartsore to lose after the effort that’s been put in by the team over the campaign, but we can take some positives out of this.’
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images