Western Province coach John Dobson described his team’s performance in losing the Currie Cup final 17-12 to the Sharks as ‘the worst of the season’ and a ‘car wreck.
WP were well beaten despite the tight score‚ thanks mainly to the Sharks’ inability to round off several gilt-edged chances.
But the Durban side did enough to capture their eighth title against a team that was unbeaten going into the final.
“It was far and away our worst performance of the season and the Sharks thoroughly deserved to win the match‚ of that I have no doubt‚” Dobson said.
“But we have to look at facts and take out the emotion. If you are going to lose eight lineouts‚ you are going to make something like 40 more tackles.
“It’s very hard to defend turnovers. You are going backwards and they have the forward momentum.
“We never got any momentum and we never looked like scoring.
“The only time we looked vaguely like scoring was when wing Sergeal [Petersen] chased a kick and it bounced the only way possible for him not to score. It was a car wreck of a day.
“I felt sad for the people that came to Newlands to see that spectacle we served up today.”
Dobson dismissed suggestions that his side mentally faltered after only scoring two tries in the play-offs after scoring freely in the Pool stages.
But he did admit that perhaps‚ despite saying they wouldn’t‚ the team veered from its vibrant play of the Pool stages.
“I don’t think there is a mental aspect to it. If we had won a few more lineouts [in the final] we would be having a different conversation‚” Dobson said.
“A big accent the whole week was to stay true to ourselves and maybe there was an element of us losing our way. Our body language wasn’t as good as it’s been was it?”
Dobson gambled by picking Damian Willemse at centre to accommodate Josh Stander at flyhalf. Stander was selected for his superior tactical kicking play‚ but he and Willemse had no positive impact on the game.
“We were poor in many positions and I’m not going to single out Josh Stander‚” Dobson said.
“There is not one player in the change room that thinks he had a good game. I admit Josh didn’t pay off and neither did Damian at centre.”
The bulk of Springbok squad to tour Britain and France had to fly out of Cape Town at 9pm on Saturday. Players who were selected needed to leave Newlands immediately to catch a flight to London.
Dobson mused aloud whether this affected the players mentally.
Lock JD Schickerling‚ Petersen and centre Ruhan Nel were three uncapped WP players in the squad. They all knew before the final they were touring with the Boks.
The other aspect that weighed on Dobson was taking the Bok tour into consideration during the final.
“Hooker Bongi Mbonambi was pretty stuffed and when I asked him at halftime whether he could carry on‚ he took a while to answer‚ so I decided to pull him‚” he said.
“A big thing is that some guys were leaving the field to go straight on the Bok tour‚ and I don’t know how much of a factor that was.
“We spent a lot of time this week thinking about the mental impact on the new Boks. The guys had to leave Newlands at 1815‚ so they couldn’t even stay of the trophy presentation.
“As a coach you’re sitting in the game when Bongi took a know and you start thinking‚ ‘this guy has got to fly to England tonight.’
“Or Wilco Louw had a calf niggle and I thought that maybe if this was an end result game‚ he should go on. But you consider that he has to play for the Boks next week.
“Some of the guys are new Springboks too‚ so you have to wonder where they are mentally.”