Set-piece inaccuracy and the indiscipline which led to conceding crucial penalties were prime factors in Western Province losing their tight Currie Cup contest against the Sharks on Friday.
The international players who had been available for the Sharks had also made a significant difference.
This was the opinion of Province head coach Allister Coetzee, speaking after the Sharks had scored a 21-19 win over his team at a wet Newlands.
Coetzee said he was proud of his players for the excellent rugby they had played to come back to lead 19-18 with 12 minutes to go after the Sharks had taken a 15-3 lead in the 48th minute. But it was disappointing to lose, Coetzee said, especially since Province had played most of the rugby and had dominated territory in playing most of the game in the Sharks' half.
"It's the second time we've been so dominant and then lose the game," said Coetzee. "Unfortunately yet another penalty at a crucial stage cost us the game."
While his senior Stormers' players had learned in the last couple of seasons to close out tight contests to win games, this younger, inexperienced group of Western Province players were not yet able to do the same.
"It's all lessons this group of players need to learn.
"When the senior players got the necessary experience we learned how to close out these games but for this group of players we're almost back where we were a couple of season ago with the Stormers.
"We just need to keep working hard and make sure the discipline is right up there."
"It's frustrating to put yourselves in a position to win the game and then you don't win it, but one has to have patience with the players and the combination we're trying here, and hopefully we can get it right."
The coach said his team's set-piece play was not as good as they had wanted and greater set-piece accuracy was essential. He had, however, been pleased with the improved scrummaging in the second half.
Conceding turnovers was a problem, and the team needed to sort out their discipline as well, the coach believed, since "we are beating ourselves by giving away stupid penalties at crucial stages of the game".
Coetzee pointed out that six of the seven Sharks' backs were international players. They had two more Springbok backs on their bench, and with two of their three loose-forwards also Boks, the Sharks' greater experience proved crucial.
"To play against a player like Frédéric Michalak who can drop into the pocket and slot every drop-kick, shows that the international players in their side made a massive difference.
"Michalak was never rattled, he was always in control, taking charge of the game because of his experience.
"That's why he's a French international player. But I must say their pack laid the foundation very well."
The coach singled out Province scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage for praise.
"I think he played outstandingly well. His kicking was spot-on. Tactically he was very good. He can vary his game; he can make good decisions under pressure. His execution was spot-on.
"He is one of the leaders in the team. He's vice captain, one of the players we look to to play well and to lead by example."
By Len Kaplan at Newlands
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