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Province ease past pitiful Cheetahs

Sat, 13 Oct 2012 16:56
Andries-bedkker-wp-try-630 Francois-uys-cheetahs-charg Duane-vermeulen-wp-runs-630

Lions await WP in Jo'burg

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Western Province eased into the Currie Cup play-offs with a commanding 36-15 win over a pitiful Free State Cheetahs team in Cape Town on  Saturday.

The result means the defending-champion Lions are at home to Western Province in the semifinals and the table-topping Sharks will host the Blue Bulls, while the Free State Cheetahs will be involved in a two-match promotion-relegation series against the Eastern Province Kings over the next two weeks.

A cold evening the 14 733 spectators had of it on Saturday for the last  rugby match at Newlands till 2013. It was a day of black southeaster which does its best to keep spring warmth at arm's length but the rugby was worth it - for an hour at least.

Western Province, with their Springboks back in harness, were back to their enthusiastic and intense best as they laid waste the Free State Cheetahs. Then on the hour, with the score 36-3, they divested themselves of the Springboks and the game changed from a sprint to a plod and the visitors grabbed 12 points, though that may be cold comfort as they face the embarrassment of playing two promotion-relegation matches.

The presence of the great players certainly added lustre and emphasised that, while the Currie Cup has been exciting fun, it has not been the real deal.

In that  hour  the best-team Western Province were thrilling and it brought them tries. They, who are so often accused of being a try-less side, ran in five tries and the it was only in the last handful of minutes that the Cheetahs looked like scoring a try and actually got two of them.

Dimitri Catrakilis, who was certainly not out of place amongst international stars, opened the scoring when Marcel van der Merwe was penalised for a dangerous tackle. 3-0 after 3 minutes.

Western Province were in control of the match and came back on the attack as Gerhard van den Heever chipped and Nic Groom got hold of the wildly bouncing ball. Western Province battered at the Free State defences and then went wide to the right where Jean de Villiers bounced off Nico Scheepers and scored in the corner. 8-0 after 8 minutes.

Free State then got more into the game and a dinky grubber by Sias Ebersohn nearly brought them a try. Hennie Daniller stooped from his vast height to gather the ball and he played inside to speedster Raymond Rhule but Bryan Habana, who continued his rich vein of form, caught the speedster from behind. The Free State stayed attacking and Habana was penalised at a tackle. Scheepers, who had missed one, goaled. 8-3 after 20 minutes.

Rhule had hardly a chance in the game as Western Province seemed to have two men watching him as Free State had three men watching Eben Etzebeth.

The scrums were a problem early in the match. Coenie Oosthuizen was penalised at two scrums and then sadly left the field, seemingly with a lower back or hip injury. His place was taken by burly Ross Geldenhuys who was also penalised twice at scrums. There were only nine scrums in the first half which produced five penalties, a free kick, the product of seven collapses.

From a free kick at a scrum, Western Province tapped and attacked. A penalty followed under the posts and they again tapped and gave to Andries Bekker, who beat two defenders to score. The TMO confirmed the try and Bekker did not hide his delight. Catrakilis converted that one. 15-3 after 29 minutes.

Another scrum penalty gave Western Province a five-metre line-out. They formed a maul which at first the Free State repelled but then Western Province gathered strength and momentum and rumbled it forward till Deon Fourie dropped to ground for the try. 22-3, which was the half-time score.

Bekker, who had caught the ball to set up the maul, then left the field, replaced by De Kock Steenkamp. Bekker did not look distressed.

The Cheetahs lost Sarel Pretorius early in the second half, which was a blow.

Western Province went through many phases, making headway into Free State territory but it all seemed to have ground to a halt till suddenly from a tackle/ruck Fourie burst away skipped out of two tackles and scored under the posts as Carl Wegner tackled him. This try earned Western Province a bonus point, which meant they were unassailably third on the Currie Cup log and heading for Johannesburg for their semifinal.

The process of substitution now started in earnest, which did nothing for the standard of play.

Western Province attacked at close quarters and Catrakilis got over but the TMO advised against the awarding of a try. From the subsequent five-metre scrum Western Province attacked and Duane Vermeulen shot like a cannonball over the line under the posts for a try. 36-3 after 60 minutes.

Free State did a lot of phases without profit. They changed tack and tried pick-'n-drive, also to no profit. Sias Ebersohn fired a wild-looking kick from far left, parallel to the goal-line to far right where Gio Aplon caught it.

Free State turned penalties into tap and attack and eventually François Uys just managed to get the ball down for a try. 36-8 with four minutes to go.

In midfield, Brok Harris, in the centre berth, lost the ball and Rhule footed through. Juan de Jongh saved but carried over in doing so. From the five-metre scrum the siren sounded but Philip Snyman went over with force. De Bruyn converted.

Man of the Match: There are strong contenders in the Western Province side - Bryan Habana, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff. Our choice of Man of the Match is flank  Don Armand who won line-outs and kick-offs, tackled, carried and was generally filled with great energy and enthusiasm and he did it for the full 80..

The scorers:

For Western Province:
Tries:
De Villiers, Bekker, Fourie 2, Vermeulen
Cons: Catrakilis 4
Pen: Catrakilis

For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries:
Uys, Snyman
Con: De Bruyn
Pen: Scheepers

Teams:

Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Gio Aplon.

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Francois Uys, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Ryno  Benjamin.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistants: Marius Jonker, Linston Manuels
TMO: Deon van Blommenstein

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