Prov­ince storm to big vic­tory

Half-time light­ning ends game, Bulls struck by WP thun­der­bolts

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT - VATA NGOBENI Lof­tus Vers­feld Try: Steenkamp Con­ver­sion: De Beer Tries: Penalty try, Van Dyk, Petersen, Coet­zee Con­ver­sions: Penalty try, Marais (3) Penal­ties: Marais (2)

BLUE BULLS WESTERN PROV­INCE THE RAIN may have had the fi­nal say in this one but Western Prov­ince had done enough by the half­time in­ter­val and the game be­ing called off to emerge de­served 34-7 win­ners.

The tor­ren­tial down­pour that had hit the cap­i­tal prior to the game forced kick-off to be de­layed by 15 min­utes, and two light­ning strikes dur­ing the half-time in­ter­val left of­fi­cials with no choice but to call off the game with Western Prov­ince well in con­trol of pro­ceed­ings.

The slip­pery con­di­tions and per­sis­tent rain proved to be the en­emy to the Blue Bulls, while play­ing into the hands of the vis­i­tors who not only proved that they are the best team in the com­pe­ti­tion but the win also se­cured them a home fi­nal if they are able to over­come the Bulls in next week­end’s semi-fi­nal en­counter at New­lands.

And ahead of that semi-fi­nal next week, Prov­ince will go in with a huge psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van­tage hav­ing bul­lied the men in blue in their own back­yard with Spring­bok prop Wilco Louw along with fel­low front-row­ers hooker Scarra Ntubeni and Ali Ver­maak put­ting in a mas­ter­ful scrum­mag­ing per­for­mance that sunk the Bulls.

Louw, who was play­ing in his 50th Cur­rie Cup match, ex­erted enough pres­sure on his op­po­site num­ber Matthys Bas­son, who was even­tu­ally yel­low carded in the 16th minute, to not only earn his team a penalty try but the vis­i­tors were able to milk enough penal­ties from the set-piece which en­trenched their dom­i­nance on the game.

So dom­i­nant was the vis­i­tors’ scrum that their sec­ond try scored by flank Kobus van Dyk in the 30th minute had come from an­other mas­sive shunt by the pack at scrum time.

Western Prov­ince were seem­ingly con­tent on play­ing off the Bulls mis­takes and those er­rors were plen­ti­ful as the home side forced the is­sue by try­ing to play rugby in­stead of em­ploy­ing a more tac­ti­cal ap­proach to the game.

Even though the hosts were able to score through Ruan Steenkamp in the 26th minute from their per­sis­tence from the pick up and go strat­egy, it was only ever go­ing to work when deep in op­po­si­tion ter­ri­tory.

While the rain killed the con­test and any prospects of a flow­ing game of run­ning rugby, the Bulls will be kick­ing them­selves at how eas­ily they handed the game to the vis­i­tors.

Hav­ing played in sim­i­lar con­di­tions at the be­gin­ning of the com­pe­ti­tion against the Free State Chee­tahs, Western Prov­ince were well versed in what not to do and they were more than happy to play as lit­tle rugby as pos­si­ble but max­imise on the few op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Sergeal Petersen’s try in the 32nd minute was an­other ex­am­ple of how the Bulls spilled pos­ses­sion on at­tack and the vis­i­tors were quick to pounce on the ball with Petersen only left to pick up and dive over af­ter re­place­ment fly­half Ti­nus de Beer had failed to gather the ball five me­tres from the line.

But it was how Prov­ince closed out the first half and ul­ti­mately the game that would have sent out a warn­ing to the Bulls ahead of next week­end’s semi-fi­nal clash in Cape Town.

With their con­fi­dence sky high and not at all damp­ened by the rain, Western Prov­ince de­ceived the Bulls pack from a line-out with re­place­ment loose for­ward Jaco Coet­zee es­cap­ing through the mid­dle of the maul to score un­hin­dered for the bonus point try.

WESTERN Prov­ince play­ers cel­e­brate at Lof­tus Vers­feld last night

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