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WP still intimidated by Blue Bulls

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Western Province rugby will have you believe that they are well pleased with a ‘test-like’ victory over their arch-rivals the Blue Bulls on the weekend, but the reality is that the team that took more from this game is in fact the men from Pretoria.

When Allister Coetzee joined Western Province there was a clear indication that Western Province rugby and Stormers rugby wants to move away from being labelled a running or attacking team by placing a lot of emphasis on structure.

Two of Coetzee’s assistants played a massive part in this process in Matt Proudfoot who took charge of the forwards and Jacques Nienaber who is in charge of the defensive structures within the team.

Province and the Stormers suddenly adopted a more pragmatic approach to their game where patience was key, and through that they achieved a lot of success especially in 2010 in the Super 14 and currently enjoying an unbeaten run in the Currie Cup.

They followed this approach doggedly sometimes to the frustrations of their fans where a more open, risky approach was never even considered or delivered against the weaker Currie Cup teams.  They did win comfortably in all those matches but it left you wondering as an observer to their games if they can actually read the situation correctly in a game situation?

Throughout the Currie Cup campaign Western Province followed to route of forwards grinding out ascendency, keeping opposition players at bay through clinical defense and dominating territory and the scoreboard mainly through the boot of Willem de Waal.

The test however was always going to be the Blue Bulls – a team that has had the wood over them for the best part of the 21st century and one has to say, their ability to read the situation again left a lot to be desired.

It was actually ironic Allister Coetzee mentioned a test like victory, because some of the decision making on the park especially in the first half where Western Province dominated territory and possession, resembled anything but a test match.

In test match rugby there is a term which refers to ‘scoreboard pressure’.  This basically means that you increase and maintain pressure on your opponents not only through your domination in play, but also by taking every point on offer to create a gap between you and the opposition.  This of course allows you to dominate where the opposition more often than not are forced to play outside of their preferred structures and end up playing catch-up rugby.  As they do this, the likelyhood for more mistakes from them, or more gaps opening up increas as you have now succeeded in taking them out of their comfort zone and a win, or even big win is now more likely provided you stick to what you are good at.

In the first half Western Province carried the ball into tackled situations close to 50 times, losing only two balls.  In comparison the Bulls only had enough ball to do this 20 odd times also losing the odd ball or two or conceding a penalty.

Apart from this dominance Western Province had 5 opportunities to put 3 points on the board through the boot of Willem de Waal who has been deadly accurate throughout the competition.  Each time they declined, opting for line-outs or scrums instead and once the half-time whistle went, they only lead by 3 points (6-3).

There was no doubt that the team that took confidence into the change room were the Blue Bulls and it showed when they came out.  They drew level in the 42nd minute and all of a sudden the stats which favoured the Province boys in the first half was now dominated by the Blue Bulls as they took the ball up time and time again.

Western Province defense stood tall as they did throughout the season, but had the Blue Bulls not lost key players like Gary Botha and Dewald Potgieter during the game leaving them with a couple of inexperienced youngsters on the park the result may have been well different.

In the end Province prevailed 15 – 12 where all points were scored through the kickers of the respective teams but in a game where it was thought initially that Province will be way too strong for the Bulls and where they dominated for large parts of the first half only to lead by 3 points one can only again go back to the decision making of the Province players and management staff on game day.

Why they decided to abandon a game plan and strategy they were more than happy to bore us with against minnows for large parts of those games and try and intimidate the Blue Bulls by taking them on physically (and losing) only they will know – especially if you sit with the best kicker in the competition at flyhalf.

Perhaps it can be put down to the fact that they are in fact psychologically intimidated by even a second string Bulls team who has enjoyed this mental, physical edge over their Cape rivals for the last decade?

Either way, what we saw on Saturday is Western Province playing dumb rugby which was anything but test-rugby if I have to consider their lack of application and patience which stood them in such good stead in the past.

In my books:  Bulls 1 WP 0.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Shit you must stop this I do not think it is good for me to agree with you too often.

    But my feeling is the same.

    For the life I could not uderstand that they will take 5 lineout kicks and not go for poles in the first half.
    I actauly liked the way they played against GWK for playing the game in there half and in the second half with a lead they could start trying some things which they did and scored brilliant tries.

    For playing the Bulls you should take points when it is on offer and build a lead.

    Can not agree with you more that we (WP) were lucky in the fact that key players for the Bulls got injured and actauly gave the game to WP. Gary was a big lost to them not just as a player but also as captain for brianless Derick is no captain. Potties is as big alost for them.

    All in All WP better step up this weekend if they want to beat the Sharks for the way they played against the Bulls is not the way to go into this weekend match.

    I am sure Alister would not do the same mistake again but these day nobody knows.

  2. Bulls supporter:
    “You couldn’t even score a try
    against us!”
    WP supporter:
    “We didn’t need to.”

  3. Anyone see how Leibenberg was smashing through the advantage line, putting in the big hits… you’ll never see Ralepelle doing that at ANY level!

  4. Reply to Boertjie @ 11:21 am:

    heheheheheh

    Alzheimers Boer

    Same thing said about Boks and you had major issues with it.

    Double standards but hey that’s what the media does…

    I recall in the 1980’s if a Bulle supporter had said that about a game Naas Botha won for them against WP there’d be hell to pay in the Cape….

    BTW

    have you seen that story of the Kovsies white boys in the news since three weeks ago?

    We need that Media Tribunal…

  5. As a Bulls supporter I was expecting a bit of a hiding at Newlands as WP has truly been the form team in this year”s CC.

    However I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Bulls’ younsters.

    You keep waiting for the inevitable to happen, the Bulls hitting their lean years cycle again. But it would seem that planning and player development is still paying off.

    I am worried about the performance of our junior teams though……

  6. Reply to Bokhoring T @ 12:14 pm:

    For sure… the current form senior 2’s in the land, both backed up by the up-n-comers…

    Difficult to separate Bismark and Tiaan, Fourie is a more complete hooker than Burden who is more like a Kuun/Brits hybrid (which is all very well for the lowly CC)…

    Reply to Morné @ 12:09 pm:

    Ralepelle makes him look like a Joe Rokokoko and both his linebreaks came straight up the middle through the forwards…

    Reply to Husamarine @ 12:42 pm:

    Agree on all accounts…

  7. Reply to Morné @ 1:16 pm:

    Perhaps you missed “both his linebreaks came straight up the middle through the forwards…”

    There’s even some video footage of one of them… steam-rolling forwards out of the way…

    But you keep selecting Ralepelle…

    :Ollie:

  8. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:19 pm:

    Didn’t miss it, was actually at the game so I watched it live and on video afterwards.

    What is of concern is that for a hooker, who is supposedly your fourth loosie, not playing to the ball as he should but rather hanging around on the wing more often than he hits rucks.

    One, or even two line-breaks in 80 minutes in such a close game is of little significance when it should have been about 3 to 6 but for that, he actually had to do what a hooker is supposed to do and play towards the ball…

  9. Reply to Morné @ 1:16 pm:

    “There is a cause for concern”…

    Hmmm interesting… I take one look at Stormer’s impressive scrumming and breakdown defence/offence during their (most successful in quite some time) S14 campaign… and how Tiaan was rated each weekend compared to his opponents obliterating the current Kiwi counterparts… then look at the current CC performance of their pack and up to the leader log…

    And then I compare that to an international test team coach that is persisting with a hooker that cannot even make his CC starting side and has NEVER done anything above average on the field in his entire senior career, not to mention arguably being the slowest player on the paddock at any given time… and whats more this same ‘brains trust’ persisting with him… NEVER backs him to be anything more than a bench-warmer…

    I know EXACTLY where “there is a cause for concern”!

  10. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:29 pm:

    Hmmm…

    And their impressive scrumming and breakdown defense is down to exactly how much of a contribution by the hooker alone?

    In fact, do you see me complain about his scrumming ability?

    If you want to look at a great prospect for hooker within WP, look no further than Deon Fourie who actually plays like one specifically in open play…

  11. Is this argument about Liebenberg being out of position for a hooker or about why Chiliboy is in the Boks instead of him?

  12. “One, or even two line-breaks in 80 minutes in such a close game is of little significance when it should have been about 3 to 6 but for that…”

    Really… he had the more line-breaks than any other forward of either side only from memory Juries running from pace with a bit of distance (and not up the middle from a ruck) equaled him!

    “, he actually had to do what a hooker is supposed to do and play towards the ball…”

    Well it was you who stated in the S14 that the Stormer’s clearly use their more-strike running forwards in this manner…

    “, he actually had to do what a hooker is supposed to do and play towards the ball…”

    Again interesting because he out-played his opposite number in every aspect of the game and was ranked the number one ‘all round’ performing hooker of the round!

    And then we have the Bok ‘incumbent’ that is so crap against the ‘Leopards’ he is substituted before half-time!

    As I said… I know exactly where there is cause for concern…

  13. “look no further than Deon Fourie ”

    Yes indeed he is another one of several that out-rank the uber-quota!

  14. Well, if you are discussing what a hooker is supposed to do……..you should really not look any further than Gary Botha.

  15. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:39 pm:

    Ah okay we are going to stats?

    First off, Gary Botha left the field early in the first half.

    Secondly, I wonder if you can clear up for me how you perceive the concept of a ‘strike runner’ in your opinion and where you employ strike runners in the game of rugby, i.e. in which channels.

    Also what the purpose of a strike runner is?

    If we consider Liebenberg as a strike runner for just a second how does the following stats read:

    10 ball carries
    2 line breaks
    1 off-load
    75 meters gained
    1 Pass during the whole game after handling the ball 10 times…

    In isolation and going on the ‘strike runner’ theory I will leave it to you to motivate his effectiveness as one (strike runner).

    Especially if we consider Brok Harris who had;

    9 ball carries
    1 line break
    62 meters gained
    and made 3 passes after handling the ball 13 times…

    Then, after you are finished with that I would love to know how we justify him as a tight forward when he was one of the 1st three cleaners on their own ball at a ruck only 6 times, only getting there once on defense which leaves him hitting the ruck as a tight forward a astronomical total of 7 times in 80 minutes…???

    Compared to Gary Botha who hit the ruck 9 times in about 20 minutes he was on the field and Bandise Maku, Botha’s replacement being one of the first 3 players to arrive at a ruck 24 times in about 60 minutes of rugby.

    So my question, how does Liebenberg compare as a tight forward to his Bulls counterparts, and how does he compare to as a strike runner to Brok Harris, a prop…???

  16. Reply to Husamarine @ 2:02 pm:

    hmmmm…

    there’s been a furore around the fitness of John Smit lately…

    strange that no one thinks Gary Botha’s looking decidely out-of-shape too…

    go and check the size of his gut at bind-time…

    :bulls supporter:

    it’s no smaller than Smits… in fact i reckon it’s bigger…

  17. Maybe Alister Coetzee reckoned the Bulls were vulnerable and his aim was to make a statement and pile up a really big score.

    Chip away at the Bulls’ confidence come semi time in October.

  18. fact is…

    we won…

    ugly… yes…

    but a win just the same…

    think it’s a bit rich that, after years of losing, now a win, albeit an ugly one, isn’t good enough…??

    yeah… it wasn’t the best rugby… but fouie’s try was out of the top drawer… fizzing, exciting stuff…

    at the beginning of the season AC said they’d focus on defence and accuracy and build up the attack as the season progressed…

    generally i think that has been the case… but credit must be given to the bulls for their defence… it was excellent (as was ours)… and taking shots at goal wouldn’t have turned the game into champaign rugby…

    yes, i too screamed at the screen (couldn’t get to the ground for this one) “TAKE THE POINTS”… but truth be told that wouldn’t have made the rugby any prettier…

    far from intimidating wp… i think a win like this is hugely valuable in the broader context because it will have left the players with the belief that they can indeed grind out a win against the bulls who, in the past, have most often won the grinding battles…

    yes, the win could’ve been by a few more points… but a hard win will serve us better this weekend against the sharks than a runaway victory…

  19. “yeah… it wasn’t the best rugby… but fouie’s try was out of the top drawer… fizzing, exciting stuff…”

    ‘pologies…

    wrong game…!! :mrgreen:

  20. Hi UFO,

    Yes, saw that gut….quite embarrasing!

    But, if you were to look at his workrate during the S14 and especially now in the CC – unbelievable!

    I understand and accept that he will never again wear the Green and Gold jersey, but he will always be one the unluckiest guys to have been around the same time as John.

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