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WP survive Griquas scare

Fri, 20 Sep 2013 15:28
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One try each
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Western Province held off a fierce onslaught by Griquas to remain unbeaten and escape with a 19-13 win at a wet Newlands on Friday evening.

A gritty Griquas side, who led at the break, pushed the defending champions to the wire and seemed destined to end their hosts’ unbeaten run.

It was never going to be a great game, and it certainly was not. The weather made sure of that. The whole of the Western Cape is sopping wet.

People make claims that this is the wettest weather since whenever, and this week has been especially wet with hard, soaking rains all week, getting worse as the week splashed towards Friday.  And Newlands is the wettest part of South Africa.

Then too there was one of these abominable seven o'clock kick-offs. By the time the match started it was raining and bitterly cold. It was not a night for playing or watching rugby but it went ahead and despite brave efforts by both sides, the weather made constructive rugby difficult.

Before the match kicked off, the players huddled in silence to mark their respect of the passing of Koos Basson, once the president of the Western Province Rugby Union who made a lifelong service to rugby in the area.

Griquas kicked off, Western Province made a mess which led to a scrum to Griquas and Western Province were penalised because prop Pat Cilliers had done something wrong. Francois Brummer goaled. 3-0 in one minute.

The scrums were a mess throughout. There were 20 of them as the handling was insecure. Each side was penalised at scrums - Western Province four times, Griquas three times. There were 17 penalties in the match, seven at scrums.

When Manus Schoeman was penalised at a tackle, Kurt Coleman made it 3-all and when Schoeman was penalised a second time, Western Province led 6-3 after 21 minutes.

In between the scores, Western Province dominated possession and  went through many phases. In the match they went beyond five phases seven times. They had 72% of possession but Griquas scored the try.

From a scrum somewhat to the right they went right - 8-9-15. Big fullback Gouws Prinsloo grubbered ahead and right wing Nico Scheepers raced after the ball which rolled into the Western Province in-goal where Scheepers beat four Western Province players to score a try  for Griquas to lead 10-6 after 24 minutes. And that was the half-time score but not before a bizarre happening.

Wing Gerhard van den Heever caught a deep kick and raced upfield, passing Griqua after Griqua till Brummer tackled him. But just before Brummer had tackled him, Van den Heever's stride was broken by an attempted tackle by Jacques Coetzee, who was knocked out in the attempt because his head was on the wrong side.

But the TMO did what TMOs are now allowed to do and suggested that there had been foul play. And so the referee and the TMO watched the incident - and so did all TV watchers. Van den Heever was running with a clenched first as runners often do. The ball was under his left arm as Coetzee approached on his right. Van den Heever's right arm dangled and Coetzee's face made contact with Van den Heever's clenched hand.

There seemed no real effort - or any kind of effort - on Van den Heever's part to make the contact and no force in the contact, but Van den Heever was sinbinned for a punch.

In the first half, Griquas lost prop Nick Schonert to concussion and hooker Matthew Dobson went to tighthead against the redoubtable Steven Kitshoff. The first two penalties in the half were penalties against Dobson in a scrum. Coleman goaled the first one.

Brummer kicked the kick-off far too far - over the dead-ball line to give Western Province a scrum, and again Griquas were penalised. Western Province set up a line-out and they were on the attack. As they did with almost every line-out they mauled and then bashed at the Griquas line. Cilliers got close and was tackled. He laid the ball pack perfectly and lively Nic Groom snatched it up and darted five metres to score under the posts. Western Province led 16-10 after 49 minutes.

Things happened as the time went on -. Western Province kicked badly, the rain came down and Demetri Catrakilis came on for his first Currie Cup match this season.

Rohan Kitshoff was penalised three times at tackles. Brummer missed the first kick but Prinsloo goaled the second, and it was 16-13 to Western Province with 17 minutes to play.

Till the last few minutes, that time belonged to Western Province. First Rohan Kitshoff was pushed out at the right corner as he went for a try. Western Province turned a penalty into a five-metre line-out and mauled till Rohan Kitshoff broke away for the line but was short and penalised.

Then Cheslin Kolbe went for the left corner but Scheepers did well to get him out at the corner.

With five minutes to go Griquas were penalised at a scrum and, not surprisingly, Catrakilis goaled. 19-13.

When Rynhardt Elstadt was withdrawn on Thursday, Rayn Smid of the Under-21s came off the bench and into the side to make his Currie Cup debut. He played the whole match. With five minutes to go, Under-21 flank Josh Katzen came on to make his debut. Both were part of the heroic Western Province end game.

Western Province were attacking, going right, and Nizaam Carr passed a long, high pass towards Damian de Allende which Jean Stemmet intercepted. Down the field he raced. Faced by Aplon, he chipped, and he and Aplon traced for the ball. Aplon fell on it four metres from his line and Stemmet fell on him. Catrakilis got back to help Aplon and Western Province got the ball back to Van den Heever who kicked out - out but not far.

Griquas won the line-out and mauled. Western Province repelled them and Griquas knocked on. Scrum to Western Province five metres from the line. They lost the scrum! Again Griquas bashed. Marnus Hugo was nearly over, but the defence was brave. The siren sounded but still the cry was "They come."

Griquas lost the ball forward but Western Province were penalised. No time for a line-out. Griquas tapped and bashed again, 14 times Western Province tackled to keep them off their line. After 14 phases, Griquas lost the ball and Western Province kicked it dead for the final whistle.

Western Province won by the skin of their chattering teeth.

Man of the Match: Western Province had most of the play, though the Griquas were so brave - especially Leon Karemaker, Burger Schoeman, Marnus Schoeman and Jaco Nepgen. For Western Province there was that back three, so full of running - Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever and Cheslin Kolbe - with hard, energetic Damian de Allende to add power. But the men with the hardest job on such a day are the scrumhalves, getting hold of that soapy ball and from the mess presenting their side with a present worth having. Our Man of the Match is Nic Groom.

The scorers:

For Western Province:
Try:
Groom
Con: Coleman
Pens: Coleman 3, Catrakilis

For Griquas:
Try:
Scheepers
Con: Scheepers
Pens: Brummer, Prinsloo

Yellow card: Gerhard van den Heever (Western Province, 33)

Teams:

Western Province:
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rayn Smid, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 De Kock Steenkamp (captain), 4 Mthetheleli Fuzani, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Josh Katzen, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Demetri Catrakilis 22 Michael van der Spuy..

Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Patrick O'Brien, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Richard Lawson.

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Kaplan, Marc van Zyl
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

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