Former Bok prop Cobus Visagie says Western Province will need to make full use of turnover ball if they're to triumph at Newlands. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Province have not only survived, but thrived on scraps this season. Only the Golden Lions have managed more tries than the Cape side during the Currie Cup. Their strike-runners on the outside have seen plenty of ball, most of which have come off the back of turnovers. That Province have made the most tackles and the most turnovers this season should come as no surprise.
Against the Lions at Newlands earlier this season they outscored the visitors by three tries to one, despite having just 39% possession. While they struggled at the scrums that afternoon, their execution in other aspects of the game was enough to see them through.
'It's not always the team with the most possession that wins,' says Visagie, who was a member of the last Province team to win a home final back in 2001. 'Because of the number of rucks in a game, that should be the area they should target. There's maybe 15 scrums, 20 lineouts, but there's more than a hundred rucks. If you are not going to get momentum through your set piece, then you need to have runners that can give you that on your phase play.
'If they can put pressure on the rucks and dominate not only their own possession, but get a couple turnovers, then they can stop any momentum that the Lions might get at the set piece.'
The Lions completely decimated the Sharks in the scrums during the first semi-final at Ellis Park, and Visagie is under no illusions as to the task that faces WP on Saturday.
'They are going to come up against very stiff competition in the scrum,' admits Visagie. 'The Lions have proven themselves to be a stronger and a tighter unit through the season.'
'It's clear that if there's going to be trouble in the scrums, then Western Province are going to have the shorter end of the stick. Even if it isn't them that is yielding.'
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images