‘WP vs Sharks could come down to final moments’

Western Province assistant coach Dawie Snyman is confident they will make the right decisions in the closing stages of their semi-final against the Sharks on Saturday.

Province secured a home semi-final at Newlands against the Sharks thanks to a last-gasp 31-29 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

In some ways, that victory could be a watershed moment for the Cape side, given that they had previously thrown away leads against a 14-man Vodacom Bulls side at Newlands and against the Lions at Ellis Park.

Speaking during an online media conference on Tuesday, backline coach Dawie Snyman said the win against the Cheetahs proved that Province can handle the pressure of closing out this Saturday’s semi-final.

‘If you look at the Bulls game, we had an opportunity to close that game out but we missed that opportunity,’ Snyman explained. ‘Against the Lions at Ellis Park, we were in a good position, but they won with that kick at the end. Against the Cheetahs, we showed we had learned from those previous two games and used our opportunities.

‘Going into this weekend, it’s going to come down to the last five or 10 minutes and the decisions we make in those moments. That’s where we have made mistakes previously, the wrong calls at the wrong time in those scenarios.

‘We know what works for us and how to handle those pressure situations.’

Province scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, also sitting in on the conference, said the team was in a very good space mentally, despite being criticised for a perceived over-reliance on their set piece.

‘It was always a thing of learning and trying to put that into our team,’ Jantjies said. ‘Everyone is entitled to their opinion and what they think of us and what they want from us. But we, as a squad, are in a perfect space.

‘We have worked really hard and I think what we have planned is definitely going to pay off for us going into the future. The Sharks game is a perfect test for us. Given that it’s a playoff match, we all know that if we don’t get it right, our campaign is done.

‘We started Super Rugby Unlocked going into the Currie Cup with a plan. I think we have stuck to our plan no matter what. It was always a building phase up until now, but now is the time to prove that our plan is worth playing and putting out there on the park.

‘This is going to be the ultimate test to see if everything is in place.’

This weekend’s match could turn into the final game at Newlands, should Province not be able to secure the victory, but Jantjies said the players aren’t letting themselves get distracted by that.

‘Regardless of what happens against the Lions and the Bulls. Let’s say the Lions do beat the Bulls, if we don’t beat the Sharks then we are done anyway,’ Jantjies said. ‘Our focus is purely on beating the Sharks and not worrying too much about what’s happening.’

Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack