Western Province were on the receiving end of a couple of tough calls in their semi-final loss against the Bulls, but head coach John Dobson said that even if those were overturned, it would have taken something special to win on Friday.
Province were overwhelmed by a brilliant Bulls performance as the defending champions eased to a 48-31 victory in Pretoria on Friday evening.
Jake White’s team will host either the Sharks or Griquas in the final next Saturday.
Speaking after the match, WP coach Dobson, who had built his side up as the underdogs, was gracious in defeat as he admitted the Bulls simply had too much firepower for them.
“It would take an exceptional performance to beat this team, they’re really well drilled and have depth,” Dobson said. “I mean, did you see the size of that bench that came on? No.
“Look, some other teams have come close previously, but Loftus is definitely a fortress again and it’s a tough place to play rugby. I hope we can agree that a weakened Province side played with a lot of spirit but was still well beaten. It’s going to be tough for anyone to come here.”
Western Province tried to play with the type of freedom that Dobson had asked of them before the game, but found themselves 38-12 down at the break.
The visitors did manage to score five tries, with wing Edwill van der Merwe marking his final appearance in the striped jersey with a hat-trick. However, Van der Merwe would have had his third try sooner had it not been for a TMO call that incorrectly adjudged him to have lost control of the ball when trying to ground it over the tryline.
But even with that in mind, Dobson said Province still would have needed something really special to win the match.
“The damage was done early and the Bulls definitely had something left in the tank,” he said.
“But there were some frustrations. We really struggled with some interpretations at the breakdown. I think even before the Edwill van der Merwe try [ruled out by the TMO due to him not having control] we had a really tough poaching call go against us in the Bulls’ 22.
“Edwill’s call was also tough, we would’ve had something to play for. At the very least we could’ve had more of a thriller, but I don’t think we would’ve caught the Bulls anyway.”
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