Western Province like a force of nature
Blue Bulls (7) 7 Western Province (34) 34
Western Province — Tries: Penalty try, Kobus van Dyk, Sergeal Petersen, Jaco Coetzee; Conversion: SP Marais (3); Penalties: Marais (2)
Blue Bulls — Tries: Ruan Steenkamp; Conversion: Tinus de Beer;
● Mother nature had the final say in the last Currie Cup round-robin fixture of the season when the game between Western Province and the Blue Bulls was called off after halftime. The visitors held a 34-7 lead that became the final score that also guaranteed them the top spot on the log.
Western Province collected their five points and will host the Blue Bulls in one semifinal in Cape Town. The Sharks will host the Golden Lions in Durban in the other.
A thunderstorm not only unleashed torrential rain 35 minutes before kick-off, but the accompanying lightning was enough to force a 15-minute delay.
Lightning towards the end of the first half informed the decision to put the safety of the players first.
The players did well to get onto the pitch after the first shower and played as the rain teemed down throughout the first half.
The dark clouds also put on a show that would have made Jk Rowling’s Lord Voldemort proud and some fans were brave enough to endure the rain.
The rain hardly relented but the game was played on the saturated surface. Western Province though had every reason to play because of the Sharks’ positive result in Kimberley. However, all they needed was a point to finish first and get the home final.
That point was secured on the stroke of halftime when Jaco Coetzee’s try was the fourth one that brought the bonus point.
The three other tries came from a penalty try (16th minute), Kobus van Dyk (30th minute) and Sergeal Petersen (33rd minute) as John Dobson’s side preyed on the Bulls' naivety in the inclement conditions.
Western Province dominated the collisions and ensured they played all the business rugby in the Bulls’ 22.
The tries came from Bulls mistakes as the Bulls’ rickety scrum was exposed in the penalty try and Van Dyk’s touchdown.
Petersen’s and Coetzee’s tries were a result of superb defensive pressure from a Province side that should defend their title with ease if complacency doesn't creep in. They’re a complete product at the moment and a domestic force.
Griquas (6) 11 Sharks (24) 41
Griquas: Try: Kyle Steyn; Penalties: George Whitehead (2). Sharks: Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2), Leolin Zas (2). S’bu Nkosi, Jeremy Ward, Akker van der Merwe; Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3).
● The Sharks asserted themselves in the boiler room, as they did in the wide open spaces in their crushing Currie Cup defeat of Griquas in Kimberley yesterday.
The win confirmed their status as semifinal hosts next weekend and the win on the diamond fields was achieved with the kind of sparkle that should see them start favourites in their next engagement.
They were typically direct, if not combative upfront as they pegged the home team firmly on the back foot. They had the better of the primary phases and it helped that they had Bok tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen back in the fold following a long lay-off.
Hooker Akker van der Merwe again delivered short but determined strides when knocking at the heart of the Griquas defence. Backrowers Tyler Paul and Jacques Vermeulen were never far behind.
Van der Merwe proved a handful from the back of the rolling mass action that was the Sharks’ maul.
A silly early penalty
At the back, centre Jeremy Ward delivered another assured performance, while S’Bu Nkosi produced some powerful surges on the left wing.
Griquas at times were clutching at straws and they were hamstrung by some poor man marking. They missed 10 tackles in the first half alone.
Shortly after the break the trend continued as was evidenced in the first of replacement wing Leolin Zas’s two tries.
In wet conditions across the interior, the usually dry surface had a tinge of green.
The Sharks gave away a silly early penalty for kicking the ball in the ruck and George Whitehead duly gave the hosts the lead.
That was however short-lived as the Sharks set up camp deep inside the hosts’ territory after the restart. It was from the next set piece Robert du Preez bashed the ball up and allowed centre partner Ward to stretch for the goalline. Curwin Bosch inexplicably botched the easy conversion.
Paul then rose high to grab a Louis Schreuder box kick in the 15th minute and from the ensuing recycle the ball was moved left with left-wing Mvovo at the end of the move.
Again Bosch failed to convert and the Sharks spurned another opportunity when fullback Aphelele Fassi lost the ball.
The Sharks lost their shape a little in the second half but it made no difference.
It is difficult to see how Griquas are going to make a meaningful impact once they operate as a fully fledged franchise.
Leolin Zas, who scored two tries for Cell C Sharks, evades Griquas’ AJ Coertzen during yesterday’s Currie Cup fixture in Kimberley.