Western Prov­ince like a force of na­ture

Sunday Times - - Sport - By KHANYISO TSHWAKU at Lof­tus Vers­feld

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.

Sharks

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.

Pic­ture:Gallo Im­ages

Le­olin Zas, who scored two tries for Cell C Sharks, evades Gri­quas’ AJ Co­ertzen dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Cur­rie Cup fix­ture in Kim­ber­ley.

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