WP, Sharks serve up hors d’oeuvres
● Western Province shrugged off a poor start to remain the only unbeaten team in the Currie Cup and secure a home semifinal by beating the Sharks 50-28 (halftime 31-21) yesterday.
The two best sides in the competition lived up to the billing. Barring a major upset, it was also a curtain-raiser for next month’s final at the same venue.
The Sharks blew several try-scoring chances with centre Marius Louw, who otherwise had an excellent outing, and scrumhalf Cameron Wright both knocking on with a clear run to the WP line.
But WP deserved the win for their ability to turn pressure into points with better option taking and fewer mistakes.
Louw scored 56 seconds in after an aimless clearance from WP flyhalf Josh Stander allowed visiting fullback Curwin Bosch to carve space for his support runners.
WP took control for the next 30 minutes with a staggering display of attacking rugby that left the Sharks reeling, but not beaten.
Four WP tries and a penalty followed Louw’s score to put the home team into a 317 lead and seemingly over Table Mountain and out of sight.
But the Sharks stayed in contact when they managed to secure some possession 10 minutes before the break and put pressure on the home team’s line.
A slew of WP penalties further added to the pressure and eventually the Sharks scored through flank Tyler Paul and after the halftime hooter through lock Gideon Koegelenberg. It left them only 10 points adrift.
WP’s forwards had the edge with impressive No 8 Jaco Coetzee prominent in attack and tighthead prop Michael Kumbirai catching the eye with his work rate.
Coetzee was only in the fray after regular No 8 Juarno Augustus pulled out before kickoff with a calf strain that will sideline him for several weeks. WP will hope Augustus doesn’t miss the semifinal, but at least coach John Dobson will know that Coetzee is a more than able replacement.
For WP fullback Dillyn Leyds, wing Sergeal Petersen and centre Ruhan Nel scored fine tries with SP Marais demonstrating his knack of breaking tackles to set up teammates.
He contributed 20 points from six conversions, a try and a penalty.
Petersen’s try was a wonderful solo effort. He skinned Bosch on the outside and Leyds ran a lovely angle on to a Ernst van Rhyn pass for his score. Bosch also gave a strong performance and constantly ghosted into space to create chances for hungry support staff such as Louw and No 8 Dan du Preez.
Marais crashed over with help from lock Salmaan Moerat in the 65th minute. Minutes later Marais intercepted and set wing JJ Engelbrecht free for WP’s sixth try that settled the contest and perhaps the venue of the Currie Cup final.