Western Province assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot believes that although his charges are steadily improving every week, they will have to take a big step up when they face the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup this weekend.
WP have started their Currie Cup campaign in subdued fashion with a disappointing draw against Griquas in Cape Town, followed by a stuttering performance against the Leopards in Potchefstroom last week.
Proudfoot, however, is calling on his players - particularly the men in the engine room - to raise their game.
"I think there has been an improvement every week, but it will be a tougher challenge this week.
"We have got to front up this week, there is no place to hide and there are no excuses - it is North versus South and you have got to face that physicality and that confrontation that is coming," he said.
The Western Province forwards coach has targeted the set-pieces as the crucial area for his team, as he expects the Blue Bulls to attack their scrum and line-out ball.
He explained: "It starts up front, they attack your set-phase heavily. I am not happy with our scrumming yet - I don't think that we are driving through the engagement, so that is something that we have been focusing on heavily this week.
"Our line-out accuracy is still not where I would like it. An area that we have improved in is our contesting, I think we are contesting well and we have improved a helluva lot," he added.
Proudfoot was full of praise for the fighting spirit that the youthful Blue Bulls team showed last weekend in their comeback victory over the Cheetahs in Pretoria.
He commented: "The Bulls impressed me (on the weekend), not many sides can come back like they did. They have always had a tendency to play a specific way and have incredible faith in it and that is what they did.
"It just shows that those young players who have come in to fill those senior players' roles are well drilled in the way that they play and there is a good culture there, so not many sides could have done what they did on the weekend and it was good to see," he said.
Proudfoot admitted that Western Province are far from the finished article at the moment, but he is confident that they will be serious contenders at the business-end of the season.
"There is still massive room for improvement, there are challenges - these guys have got to be in the shape to be considered a championship side and we have got to get them there.
"That is the bar that we set at training - we are constantly looking to improve what we do," he explained.
By Michael de Vries
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