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Thu Apr 24 23:41:07 SAST 2014

WP happy to be underdogs

CRAIG RAY | 23 October, 2012 07:410 Comments
Absa Currie Cup: DHL Western Province training session in Cape Town, South Africa
Western province coach Allister Coetzee during a training session at Newlands on October 17, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa
Image by: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images

WESTERN Province are enjoying being the underdogs for Saturday's Currie Cup final against the in-form Sharks at King's Park. The tag hasn't dampened their self-belief.

Last Saturday, WP beat the Golden Lions with an injury-time try to advance to the final, while the Sharks comfortably held the Blue Bulls at bay with a 20-3 victory in wet conditions.

The Sharks have won the past four matches between the sides - two in the Super 15 and two in this year's Currie Cup campaign - which makes them overwhelming favourites to claim their second title in three seasons.

"Someone has to be the favourite and someone has to be the underdog. That's just how life is," WP coach Allister Coetzee said.

"In this case, we're the underdog and we're fine with that, because the facts show that the Sharks deserve to start as favourites.

"But we're not feeling sorry for ourselves just because we're up against a team that finished top of the log and has home-ground advantage for the final. They're a good side, but we know what we're capable of producing and we're confident in our ability."

The inclement weather in Durban is set to continue all week, including Saturday, which is another challenge WP will have to cope with.

"We've had some experience in playing in those conditions and it will make it tough," Coetzee said.

"We have learnt from our previous outings in these conditions and, after reviewing our last away game against the Sharks, we came up with some new plans for combating the conditions."

Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford played down the influence of the conditions, though.

"We've had enough opportunity to practise in the wet during this campaign and we've had a lot of wet weather games," Bashford said.

"But we still scored the highest number of tries in the tournament so it isn't like the wet weather has affected our try-scoring ability.

"The biggest plus for us is that the group shows a good balance between attack and defence and in poor conditions we've managed to defend really well. Against the Blue Bulls we achieved 93% tackle completion.

"We haven't been lopsided in one area. We've been able to hang on to the ball for long periods of time and we have enough X-factor in our backline that we can hurt people. And, when opponents have the ball, we're able to put them under pressure defensively."

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