Western Province injury free in Currie Cup

For the first time in almost two seasons Western Province have come through a Currie Cup match without any new injuries following their 41-17 win over the Blue Bulls at Newlands, in Cape Town.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said the entire match-day squad over the weekend had indeed emerged injury-free.

Province, and their Super Rugby side, the Stormers, had been picking up a variety of injuries almost without fail in the past two seasons.

Coetzee said in recent weeks there had been a new approach to training at the Newlands-based union and it appeared to be paying dividends.

“We are training at a far greater intensity and players are now better conditioned for matches,” said Coetzee in Bellville on Monday,

“The way we train now makes us better equipped for the transition from defence to attack, as well as from attack to defence. We are striving to find a balance [between defence and attack] in the way we play and players are enjoying it more these days.”

Coetzee said he had also adopted a more cautious approach with players returning from injury.

“We have had many players coming back from injury of late but we were careful not to include them in the starting XV at the expense of players who have been playing all along,” said Coetzee.

“Nowadays we tend to look at the condition [fitness levels] of returning players and question things like work-rate and match sharpness.”

One area of concern was the number of penalties Coetzee’s side had conceded in their first two matches.

“We have discipline issues and it is a great concern for us.

“The yellow cards that we’ve picked up in the past two matches are unacceptable and players need to take responsibility. There is also the matter of penalties.”

Coetzee said his side had conceded 18 penalties against the Bulls, and 16 the previous week.

He said the penalty count was invariably high when sides that were strong on mauling played each other. Province were also conceding penalties when contesting defensive scrums.

“Defensive scrums have cost us penalties and we are taking an in-depth look at the matter.

“This week we will also seek clarity from the Manager of Referees for the South African Rugby Union, Andre Watson,” said Coetzee.

Despite back-to-back bonus point wins, Coetzee felt the team was a long way off from being regarded as Currie Cup favourites.

“I would have to say that at this stage of the season, the [Golden] Lions look like the best bet for the [Currie Cup] championship,” said Coetzee.

“They are the best set-piece team and they improve with every match. We will be severely tested this week.”

Province and the Golden Lions will clash at Newlands on Saturday in a top-of-the-table clash between two unbeaten sides.

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