‘Pick Coleman for final’

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the past weekend's Currie Cup semi-finals.

Western Province vs Blue Bulls

'I think it was a poor game of rugby compared to the first match. The skill levels weren't great and the referee [Pro Legoete] was poor. His indecisiveness made the players unsure about where they stood.

'The Bulls tried to play their territory game and it was only right at the end of the game that they showed they can play some good rugby. One just wishes that they'd had the courage to do this throughout the season. Had the Bulls selected Handré Pollard at flyhalf and Jesse Kriel at fullback – two very good youngsters – they would've been a lot closer to Western Province at the end of the day. Pollard's great decision-making skills were lost to the Bulls.

'Western Province went into this game with Demitri Catrakilis – who is a great tactical, territorial kicker, but he's not a guy who gets the best out of his backline. Kurt Coleman gets the best out of his backline.

'So if you're wanting to play an attacking, ball-in-hand game and make use of Seabelo Senatla and Kobus van Wyk, you've got to have a flyhalf that can actually threaten the defence, which Pollard can, Coleman can, Pat Lambie can, Morné Steyn can't and neither can Catrakilis.'

Golden Lions vs Sharks

'The Lions are a complete team. They're very strong in the scrums, they've got really good ball-carrying loose forwards, their lineout is operating well, they got a very good halfback pairing [Ross Cronjé and Marnitz Boshoff] who vary the game really well and then they've got this offloading game that has been really exciting all season.

'It's interesting that their offloading game really started paying off in the final 20 minutes, where the other team just runs out of defensive players. The Sharks just couldn't wait for the final whistle to blow.'

The final

'The biggest problem that Province have got heading into the final is that both front rows that the Lions will field – the first-half and second-half front rowers – are all better than the Province front rowers. Province struggled against the Bulls and the Bulls struggled against the Lions. If Province don't get good scrum ball, and their lineout continues to be a little bit dicey, they have to use every ball that they get to the best of their ability to score tries.

'You can't play a territory game and play a set piece to set piece game, unless you're dominating the set piece.

'No matter who they pick for the final, they're not going to beat the Lions by playing a negative, territorial-based strategy. They're going to have to beat the Lions by exploiting turnover ball to the best of their abilities.

'Given a good referee, we're going to see a really good game of rugby. I can't see the Lions changing the way they play. Province are going to need to counter-attack from the back – hopefully they'll give Coleman a run – and we're going to see a fantastic final.'

Photo: Chris Rocco/BackpagePix

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Nick Mallett