WP given wake-up call

Allister Coetzee has blamed poor defence and a high turnover count for Western Province's defeat at Ellis Park. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

Coetzee spent Sunday and the better part of Monday sifting through the wreckage of Western Province's unbeaten run after the Golden Lions brought them crashing down to earth with a ferocious display this past weekend.

Two points was all that separated them at the end but, in truth, the two teams were poles apart. The visitors were blown off the park in 12 second-half minutes as the Lions ran in three tries to turn a five-point deficit into a 16-point lead.

'It could’ve been 50 points at one stage,' admitted Coetzee upon reflection. 'But we showed character to get ourselves back into the game. It was a bad day at the office, but sometimes things happen for a reason. We’ve had a wake-up call and we’ll move on from here.'

The usually reliable WP defensive systems were in disarray as they missed an unprecedented 31 tackles during the match, many on the Lions kick returns.

'If you fail to kick the ball out, then you need to have a solid chase line and you have to make your first time tackles. We didn’t do these things and we were punished as a result.

'We didn’t show any real punch on attack either. We turned the ball over too often and played into their hands. All these things allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game.'

It wasn't all doom and gloom, though. Province still managed three tries and played their part in a pulsating match. Coetzee admitted as much.

'I was very pleased with our set piece. The Lions have a very strong pack and we stood up well to the challenge, especially at the scrums. So much so that we even managed to score a try from a set play off the back of a scrum.'

The match against Griquas at Newlands on Saturday represents the first of four cross-section fixtures leading up to the play-offs. For WP, it provides them with the perfect opportunity to regain momentum.

'We’ve got to make sure we get back onto the horse. We disappointed ourselves against the Lions, but now we need to set things straight starting with Griquas this weekend.'

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images