Western Province held on to beat the Blue Bulls 45-34 in their Currie Cup match at Newlands on Saturday, largely because they had built up such a formidable first-half lead that they only needed to add one penalty in the second half to clinch victory.
The hosts produced a superb first half against a Bulls side that simply did not pitch for the first 40 minutes.
They played ponderous rugby marked by their inability to hang on to the ball and some extremely soft defence.
It wasn’t actually surprising that the home side raced to 42-13 lead at the break.
The Blue Bulls came storming back in the second half, largely because they managed to hold on to the ball far better and built pressure. But with such a massive lead, the sting had been taken out of the game for Western Province.
Who was the star in this match?
While flyhalf Damian Willemse was the choice of the official judges for man of the match, lock JD Schickerling looked a different class in being the focal point of the Western Province forward effort. Apart from his set-piece prowess, he was constantly in the thick of the action as a ball-carrier and worked hard in defence and at the rucks.
Key moments and themes
- The roots of the victory lay up front for Western Province, being based on the wonderful efforts of their pack. They enjoyed obvious dominance in the scrums and even managed to pick off a couple of Blue Bulls lineouts.
- Willemse also had a fine game, highlighted by his 11th-minute try when he ripped apart some flatfooted, ball-watching defence by the Bulls with some amazing stepping. The 19-year-old loves to attack the gain-line and, while one hates to heap the pressure of expectation on one so young, he does ooze class and has future Springbok written all over him.
- Willemse’s effort will no doubt be a contender for try of the season, but a long-range try by Blue Bulls wing Kefentse Mahlo could also be in the running. It will certainly be one of the most unlikeliest tries of the season. Blitzbok Seabelo Senatla was racing for the Bulls line in the 57th minute and looked certain to score when he was caught from behind by eighthman Nic de Jager. He kept working hard after bringing down the Stormers wing, counter-rucking superbly. Fullback Duncan Matthews then picked up the ball and counter-attacked, freeing Mahlo for a 75-metre dash to the line.
- The defeat, their second in succession, sees the Blue Bulls, the early pacesetters, falling to fourth on the log, behind the Free State Cheetahs, Sharks and Griquas.
Western Province – Tries: Nizaam Carr, Damian Willemse, SP Marais, Seabelo Senatla (2), Scarra Ntubeni. Conversions: Marais (6). Penalty: Marais.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Piet van Zyl, Kefentse Mahlo (2), Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (2).