Consistency the key for Province

Restricting team changes to the bare minimum has paid dividends for Western Province, who have defeated the highly-fancied Sharks and Blue Bulls in a four-match unbeaten streak.

On Wednesday, just one enforced change as a result of an injury was the feature of the Province side named by coach Allister Coetzee for the clash against the ever-improving Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, on Saturday.

The Cheetahs have now gone five matches without defeat and are the leading try-scoring side in the Currie Cup competition.

The lone change in the starting XV shows Frikkie Welsh replacing Morgan Newman, while Paul Bosch moves on to the bench. Coetzee said Province have benefited greatly from the selection continuity.

“It’s the unchanged teams that got us where we are,” said Coetzee.

“We (Province) are getting much more accurate in terms of what we do.

“We are a settled team, but it also has depth and every player in the squad knows how we want to play.

“Last week we had one injury-enforced change, as well as a late one on matchday when Hanyani (Shimange) had a slight muscle strain .

“I decided that he should sit out because I did not want to take a gamble.

“We back our back-up players, and players feel good about that.

“This week Shimange is 100% and so he’ll be on the bench, providing cover.” Coetzee said the side was flourishing because players were taking the correct options on the field of play.

“We’ve made great progress in terms of decision-making. “We have had a look at the statistics of last week’s game against the Bulls and it shows that most of the set-pieces in the match took place in the Bulls’ half. That reflects that we made good assessments.”

Coetzee said the Cheetahs pose a very different challenge from the Bulls and that his team will be up against a side that are well on top of their game. “We have noticed that the Cheetahs love to run the ball,” said Coetzee.

“It’s something that we’re expecting and mentally they will be a helluva nut to crack. “The Cheetahs are riding the crest of the wave, and playing at home they’ll be confident.

“We’ll just have to guts it out – blood and guts will be required. “But I’m very happy with our defence.” Coetzee said he and fellow coaching staff held the Cheetahs’ brainstrust in high regard.

“Our planning still has to be up there,” said Coetzee.

“The Cheetahs analyse well. They don’t give you a lot of lineouts and try to disrupt the others.

“They have a policy of suffocate and strangle at the set pieces. They come for you at scrum time, so I won’t be surprised if they have a five-two split on the bench and have a whole front row coming on, because we are scrumming well.

“In Barend Pieterse, they have a good lineout coach. So they will take us on there.”

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