Injury concerns for Western Province ahead of Currie Cup final

22 October 2017 - 13:30
By Craig Ray
EW Viljoen of Western Province is tackled by Kwagga Smith of the Lions during the 2017 Currie Cup semifinal game between Western Province and the Lions at Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town on 21 October 2017.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix EW Viljoen of Western Province is tackled by Kwagga Smith of the Lions during the 2017 Currie Cup semifinal game between Western Province and the Lions at Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town on 21 October 2017.

Western Province will go into next Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Sharks with a few changes after lock JD Schickerling and centre EW Viljoen were injured against the semi-final win over the Golden Lions on Saturday.

Viljoen limped off in the 35th minute of their 19-5 win at Newlands with a suspected torn hamstring while Schickerling was carried off in the 50th minute with his ankle heavily strapped.

“It doesn’t look good for EW in particular and he’ll definitely be out next week‚” Dobson confirmed.

WP were good value for their win over the Lions‚ which came on the back of a superb forward effort and great defence.

For all their talk of playing ball-in-hand rugby‚ WP suffocated the Lions through traditional routes of solid defence and edging the set phases‚ they made 163 tackles and picked off two crucial Lions lineouts in a match that turned on fine margins.

WP will need both those areas to function well in the final against the Sharks in Durban next week after the latter advanced to the final with a 37-27 win against the Blue Bulls.

“The thing with a team like the Lions is that if you get in front you know that they won’t test you too much with the boot‚” Dobson said.

“Once we got ahead and they started to chase‚ we were much more comfortable. They then started to play more rugby‚ which made it slightly easier to defend.

“In fact‚ we were worse off earlier in the game when scrumhalf Ross Cronje was box kicking and putting us under pressure.

“We could have made 700 tackles today and I wouldn’t be complaining.”

WP though‚ were heavily penalised in the match‚ conceding 12 penalties and an early yellow card when Schickerling was binned for collapsing a maul.

At one stage in the second half they conceded three penalties in 90 seconds that started with a scrum penalty five metres from the Lions’ tryline. WP ended up defending a lineout five metres from their own line.

“Defensive penalties have been a concern all year and it is something we have to improve for next week‚” captain Chris van Zyl said.

“There is nothing that kills the spirit more than going from five metres from the opposition’s tryline all the way back to your own line.

“There is a fine line between desperation and being silly. When we get into what we see as a ‘danger zone’ the guys sometimes feel that anything goes and it’s careless.

“Often when we review the video after the game we see the defensive penalties we gave away were not necessary to concede. If we stay more patient those penalties won’t happen.”

WP beat the Sharks 31-20 at King’s Park in the final round robin match of the campaign‚ but Dobson believes that they will face a hungrier Sharks next week.

The Sharks were already assured a home semi before kick-off in that match.

“We are not reading too much into our last result against the Sharks because mentally they didn’t need to win the game‚” Dobson said.

“It is a nice feeling to play them again because we know how to attack against their defensive system that won’t change. But the Sharks will be far more desperate this time around.

“And honestly I believe it will be a cracking final between to the two best teams in the competition.

“What is a concern for us is the way we defended against mauls. The Sharks will bring a mauling threat and we have to sharpen up because we missed too many sacks. But for the rest I thought the forwards were great against the Lions.”