WP miss golden opportunity
Western Province missed a golden opportunity to record the only home win in the opening round of Currie Cup fixtures, after the Blue Bulls forced a late 24-24 draw in Cape Town on Saturday.
As the match wound to its close, Province were actually poised to score a fourth bonus-point try and once they spurned that opportunity, their hopes of victory disappeared.
Bulls fly-half Tony Jantjies missed an injury-time conversion which would have consigned Province to defeat and, on the evening's display, would have been a tad harsh on the home side.
Province coach Allister Coetzee said his side had a let-off when Jantjies' goal attempt had gone wide.
"We were lucky they (Blue Bulls) missed kicks, otherwise the result would have been different," he explained after the match.
"This result, and the results of the other two matches, showed us that it is going to be a tough Currie Cup.
"We could have been the only home side to win this weekend, and the result was not what we wanted.
It was a wake-up call for Province and the team cannot expect to just turn up and win, he said.
"Mentally, we were not focused enough. In the second half, the Bulls grew in confidence and composure.
“We played against ourselves, our turnover count was too high and our discipline wasn't good. We gave away 13 penalties. If they had made their kicks they could perhaps have won, so we were lucky in the end."
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar felt his second-half substitutions had the desired impact.
"I think all our reserves made a big impact when they joined the action," he said.
"At half-time, I asked the players, many of whom are inexperienced, to stick with the playing plan and then we started to play good rugby.
"We decided that for this match the set-piece would be important. Once the youngsters stuck to the plan they made a good step up and that gives us (the coaches) confidence to work with them for the rest of the season.
He said many of the youngsters wanted to make their mark and stake claims for Super Rugby places next year.
Province captain Deon Fourie cut a crestfallen figure and expressed his disappointment at the team's scrum performance and lack of discipline towards the end of the match.
"We let it slip there (scrums)," he remarked.
"We worked hard on it, but it didn't come off.
"Also, discipline cost us and I was the main culprit and we have to work on that.
"Maybe it was first-game jitters, but next week we are at home again, so hopefully we can sort all that out."
Bulls captain Jono Ross was delighted with the outcome, which he felt was as good as a win.
"Before the game we asked for a big effort from each player and that is what we got," said Ross.
"A draw is never a nice result for any team, but we will be happy with the performance we put out there, as well as the effort and the work rate.
"We put in a massive effort at the set pieces and it paid dividends. I can't ask for more than that and hopefully we can build on that."