The Blue Bulls are rapidly seeing another forgettable year getting washed down the drain as their final round-robin Currie Cup match of the year was abandoned with Western Province claiming the spoils as they were already enjoying a commanding 34-7 lead at halftime at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
Kickoff was delayed by 20 minutes as a torrential downpour, and lightning, hit Loftus Versfeld just before the start, and steady rain continued through a first half in which the Bulls made some comical errors as their decision-making in the wet defied belief at times, and Western Province played some awesome rugby.
Then, during the halftime break, lightning and heavy rain returned and the officials made the decision to abandon the game.
Both sides would have been content as Western Province had already secured, through a bonus point for tries, first place on the log and a home final if they beat the battered Blue Bulls at Newlands in next weekend’s semi-final.
The Bulls were probably just happy to avoid further punishment before their last chance to salvage something from their year next weekend.
Who was the star in this match?
Tighthead prop Wilco Louw was the most influential player on the field as, returning to the union who discarded him as a junior, he led the Western Province scrum in absolutely destroying their Blue Bulls counterparts. In the muddy conditions, there was nowhere to hide for outscrummed Bulls forwards, and in practically every scrum they were sliding backwards and landing in a heap.
Key moments and themes
- The Western Province kicking game was also superb in conditions that made the boot a much more valuable weapon than any fancy handling skills. SP Marais missed just one of his six kicks at goal and flyhalf Josh Stander, another Loftus Versfeld reject, was bang on the money with his tactical kicking, allowing the visitors to thoroughly dominate territory.
- After Marais had missed his first penalty kick, Stander actually squandered the first try-scoring opportunity. Opposite number Manie Libbok, who had dropped the first up-and-under of the game and then conceded that penalty as he held on to the ball on the ground, then dithered over whether to pass or kick, and had his kick charged down by Stander, who then had the tryline at his mercy but tried to catch the bouncing ball, instead of kicking it forward again, and knocked on. But Western Province demolished the Blue Bulls scrum, allowing Marais to open the scoring with a penalty.
- But Stander was on fire from that point on, while Libbok was already on the substitutes bench before the end of the first quarter, having also conceded a five-metre scrum when he unnecessarily tried to keep a ball in play instead of letting it just go into touch. The Blue Bulls, already on the back foot in the scrums, were soon on the skids, conceding three scrum penalties in a row, before referee Egon Seconds called on his yellow-card, sin-binning loosehead prop Matthys Basson. With their scrum now made even less competitive, Western Province then won a penalty try and were on their way to their crucial bonus point.
- The poor decision-making of the Blue Bulls continued with an attempted quick lineout by fullback Divan Rossouw, his long pass inside to Tinus de Beer, the first touch for Libbok’s replacement at flyhalf, being knocked-on. The scrum inevitably resulted in another penalty for the juggernaut Western Province pack, slotted by Marais. The other three Western Province tries came in the last 10 minutes as flank Kobus van
Dyk scored off a dominant scrum, charging wing Sergeal Petersen profited from De Beer not being able to gather a kick ahead cleanly, and loose forward Jaco Coetzee burst through the middle of a rolling maul.
Western Province – Tries: Penalty try, Kobus van Dyk, Sergeal Petersen, Jaco Coetzee. Conversions: SP Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (2).
Blue Bulls – Try: Ruan Steenkamp. Conversion: Tinus de Beer.