WP unbeaten run continues in Bloem
Western Province retained their unbeaten Currie Cup status with a hard-earned, if somewhat fortuitous, 29-27 win over the Free State Cheetahs.
Western Province retained their unbeaten Currie Cup status with a hard-earned, if somewhat fortuitous, 29-27 win over the Free State Cheetahs on Friday evening.
It was a thrilling finish to a lively match in Bloemfontein as the lead changed three times in the last 12 minutes.
With 12 minutes to go, Demetri Catrakilis, just on for Kurt Coleman, goaled a penalty and Western Province led 26-24.
Then Elgar Watts kicked a penalty gaol and the Free State Cheetahs led 27-26 with seven minutes to play.
Then Western Province went through phases before Louis Schreuder passed the ball back to Catrakilis, who dropped a goal. 29-27 to Western Province with under two minutes to play.
The Free State Cheetahs came back with energy and Western Province defended with energy.
Free State knocked on and Damian De Allende kicked the ball out for a Western Province victory.
It was a thrilling finish.
The Free State Cheetahs in fact, scoring three tries to two, led from the 28th minutes to the 66th minute, and then victory slipped from their grasp.
There is an irony in that.
After all, the Free State Cheetahs is the side that leaks tries, Western Province the team that leaks no tries. This time it seems roles were changed.
The Cheetahs tackled with great determination, they outscrummed Western Province and secured their own line-outs convincingly.
Western Province also did not lose a line-out but some of their delivery was shoddy.
But Western Province, thanks mainly to brave, determined Deon Fourie, won the tackles. Western Province just won the penalty count but missed two shots at goal to the one of the Cheetahs though the one of the Cheetahs was almost too easy to miss.
Both sides ran and both sides defended. It was fascinating.
The Cheetahs built up a 10-0 lead in 11 minutes. First De Kock Steenkamp was penalised for being ahead of the kicker and Riaan Smit goaled, and then the Cheetahs scored an exciting try.
It all started with a promising break by Coleman. De Allende gave the ball to the Cheetahs and then, trying to kick, Sarel Pretorius knocked on. Then Western Province went right. Nic Groom hurled a pass to his right and flank Pieter Labuschagne intercepted it. His speed was not going to be enough and he passed inside to Johannes Prinsloo. His speed was also not going to be enough but he managed to delay cleverly till Hennie Daniller arrived and Prinsloo gave to his fullback who scored. Smit converted.
From a scrum deep in Cheetah territory on Western Province's left, Nizaam Carr fed Groom who ran a little and then gave a sharp pass to Cheslin Kolbe coming in from the left wing. Kolbe sliced clean through and scored under the posts.
When Teboho Mohoje was offside Coleman made it 10-10 and 13-10 when Lodewyk de Jager was offside after 25 minutes.
In his own half Coleman chipped and Prinsloo received the ball and ran strongly ahead. The Cheetahs bashed and went left where Daniller was over on an overlap. Smit converted - 17-13 after 32 minutes.
Smit left the field and was replaced by Ryno Benjamin.
The Cheetahs came charging back on the attack. They bashed at the Western Province line. Pretorius attempted a Fosbury Flop but just failed to score. Steven Kitshoff was penalised at a scrum and Watts missed the easy kick.
At half-time the Cheetahs led 17-13.
Early in the second half Freddy Ngoza was penalised for a dangerous tackle of the tip variety and Coleman closed the gap to 17-16.
Steenkamp knocked on and the Cheetahs attacked till Fourie won a vital turnover.
Western Province tried mauling but the Cheetahs coped effectively.
Then came the best try of the match.
Groom kicked a shallow kick and a mess ensued from which the Cheetahs got possession. They went right where Robert Ebersohn broke inside Groom and raced straight down the field. Challenged by Gio Aplon he passed inside to Johann Sadie. Challenged by Gerhard van den Heever, Sadie bowled the ball to Pretorius who sped away for a try near the posts - 24-16 after 55 minutes.
On 59 minutes, there was a cheer in Free State Stadium as Schalk Burger came on the field after an absence of 18 months. From then on he got stuck in with his usual energy and relentless strength.
Western Province were close to scoring when Van den Heever chipped and got possession as Fourie drove at the line. But the TMO did not have clear and obvious evidence that a try had been scored.
That gave Western Province a five-metre scrum. Pretorius was offside and Western Province had a five-metre line-out. They mauled and the Cheetahs were penalised. Again Western Province had a five-metre line-out and again they mauled till Western Province broke away and bashed and Michael Rhodes stretched out for a try. Catrakilis converted. 24-23 after 63 minutes.
Three minutes later the Cheetahs were offside when they were offside at a kick that went out and Western Province took a quick throw-in. Catrakilis goaled and for the first time in 34 minutes Western Province led - 26-24.
The Cheetahs went left and Ebersohn chipped and chased. Carr elbowed Ebersohn and was penalised - 27-26 with seven minutes to play.
Western Province got the ball back to Catrakilis who was bang in front of the posts and he goaled. 29-27 with under two minutes to play.
Man of the Match: Deon Fourie and Michael Rhodes of Western Province were certainly candidates but our choice is from the ranks of the losers - Sarel Pretorius who had a lively impact on the match for all the time that he was on the field.
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Daniller 2, Pretorius
Cons: Smit 2, Watts
Pens: Smit, Watts
For Western Province:
Tries: Kolbe, Rhodes
Cons: Coleman, Catrakilis
Pens: Coleman 3, Catrakilis
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Piet Lindeque, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Johannes Prinsloo (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Teboho Mohoje, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Freddy Ngoza, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Ryno Benjamin, 22 Willie du Plessis.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Mthetheleli Fuzani, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Juan Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Josh Katzen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis.
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Pieter Janse van Vuuren
TMO: Willie Roos