WP coach bemoans scrum rewards, injuries

Western Province coach John Dobson lamented his side’s lack of reward from their scrum as well as their injuries during their loss to the Lions on Saturday.

The Lions scored a penalty after the fulltime hooter to snatch a 22-19 victory at Ellis Park after trailing 19-9 at a stage in the second half.

It was Province’s second loss in a row, but it was also the second straight game they had lost in the final five minutes, after conceding a late try to lose to a 14-man Vodacom Bulls side at Newlands.

Wet weather conditions in Johannesburg resulted in an error-filled first half, with both side’s relying on their kickers to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The game did come as Province opened up a 10-point lead through a try from Seabelo Senatla, before the Lions drew themselves level through Stean Pienaar’s try.

Speaking after the game, Province coach Dobson, who opted for a six-two split between forwards and backs on his bench, said that injuries suffered by a number of starting forwards meant they couldn’t manage the game tactically as they would have wanted to.

‘I think we were both expecting really heavy rain. We knew that once it got dry that they [the Lions] would push the tempo,’ Dobson explained. ‘Unfortunately, we got absolutely massacred injury-wise which meant that many of our substitutions were out of our control. We had three concussions and we have a player or two in hospital. So at half-time, we only had two forwards of our original starting eight. So we couldn’t control the tempo or the permutations like we would have wanted towards the end of the game.

‘It wasn’t really a voluntary bench. I can’t really blame them. Obviously, you would like to see out the game and say if the bench had done better than we would have seen out the game. I thought Johan du Toit brought massive energy. David Meihuizen is an up-and-coming lock forward. Ali Vermaak hasn’t played in nine months. So I am reasonably satisfied.’

Hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni both picked up knocks, while tighthead prop Neethling Fouche, lock Salmaan Moerat and No 8 Juarno Augustus were all concussed in the match. Meanwhile, Province will also definitely be without Senatla for their next game against the Pumas as the speedster tore a knee ligament in the second half.

‘They have got to go through the protocols,’ Dobson said. ‘Neethling is seriously concussed and someone like Salmaan might not be the case. It will go through the normal grading. Seabelo with an MCL will obviously not play next week. The rest we will have to see.’

Dobson also bemoaned the number of scrum penalties awarded against his side, despite that it appeared that Steven Kitshoff was dominating opposite number Ruan Dreyer at the set-piece.

‘Our constant messaging with dealing with the match officials, which changed during the week, was about giving us a chance to scrum, which we felt we didn’t really get last week,’ Dobson said. ‘I am obviously going to review it and go through the proper process. But I don’t think I have seen resets and penalties which we didn’t even see like that. We were really frustrated at scrum time.

‘People say that Western Province shouldn’t rely on their scrum. But then other teams must build a scrum like we have. We have to consider whether we are actually doing the right thing, because we can’t get reward for it. I think we gave away three scrum penalties, which is our season total equalled today. I thought we were the dominant scrum so it was a bit frustrating for us. I do need to look at it properly.’

Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack