Province move into play-off zone
MATCH REPORT: Western Province overcame a resilient Griquas, winning 52-31, to move into the top four on the Currie Cup standings.
The six tries to four victory keeps alive the play-off hopes of last year's beaten finalists - Western Province.
Western Province went to Kimberley to play Griquas on their night of celebration. Western Province knew what they needed and they knew what to expect. They needed five points and they expected a hard encounter. They got both.
They went to Kimberley, knowing that Griquas would throw all they had into this special occasion, that added to their chance of a knock-out place in this year's Currie Cup.
South Africa's second oldest union, the first holders of the Currie Cup, were celebrating their 130th birthday. A great number of former players were there in their striped blazers or blue shirts - men like Mannetjies Roux, Tos Smith, Dave Brits and Daan Badenhorst. André Markgraaff, a former player with a great love for Griquas and an ardent supporter, handed out the Griquas jerseys and gave them a pep talk in the changeroom before the match.
Steph Roberts was qualified to be one of them but he was playing, and it was his 165th match for Griquas, the most capped Griqua ever.
There was a big crowd in the field where the birthday present to supporters was free entry.
In the end Western Province's three best weapons put them on the hard road to victory - their scrum, their driving and their fast, free backs.
Griquas went out with zest and dominated most of the first half. They kept possession better than the visitors did and kept great pressure on them as they played through aggressive phases and chased accurate kicks. Even though Western Province came back as the zest waned a bit, the difference in the possession for the half was 69% to Griquas, 31% to Western Province. And at the end of that half, Griquas led 21-17, three tries to two.
That Griquas scored three tries against a well-organised, determined defence speaks volumes for the home side's attacking zeal.
Western Province kicked off deep as usual and Clinton Swart hoofed the ball down for a line-out five metres from the Western Province goal-line, a massive kick. A free kick and two penalties had Griquas roaring on attack. They went through numerous phases till they went wide left where flank Wendal Wehr had an overlap. Cheslin Kolbe brought him down a couple of metres from the Western Province line where JW Jonker snatched up the ball and plunged over for a try which Clinton Swart converted. 7-0 after 10 minutes.
Griquas were soon attacking again but Clinton Swart missed two difficult penalty attempts. But Griquas were still laying siege to the Western Province line. They were inside the Western Province 22 when lock Wandile Putuma tried a foot pass to his backs which went instead to Juan de Jongh, the Western Province outside centre. De Jongh gave to Huw Jones who raced down the left touchline and then played inside to De Jongh who had an easy run to the posts. The only players near him were team-mates Jones and Kolbe. That made the score 7-all after 24 minutes.
It was not long before Griquas had the lead back. Scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen kicked a perfect up-and-under. Swart grabbed Kolbe, drove him back and won a turnover off him. Griquas were close and when Western Province were penalised Van Rooyen tapped and forced his way through Werner Kock to score and Griquas were 14-7 ahead after 28 minutes.
But in scoring the try Griquas lost Van Rooyen to a head knock. Soon after they would also lose Clinton Swart to a head knock in a clash with Jones, and then JW Jonker, telling injuries all of them.
A penalty gave Western Province a five-metre line-out. They attacked with Jones and then Du Preez, Nizaam Carr and Wilco Louw till Bongi Mbonambi managed to get over. 14-14 after 32 minutes.
Griquas kicked off. Under pressure Carr dropped the ball and after 10 phases André Swarts, on for Clinton Swart, ran through Kolbe and over for a try. 21-14 three minutes before half time, time enough for Robert du Preez to goal a penalty.
Western Province won the second half 35-10 as their forwards took control and tries came.
Du Preez and André Swarts exchanged penalties and from a scrum well in from touch Western Province went left where speedy Kolbe was at flyhalf and his long, fast skip pass found Kok who raced over to score. Western Province led 25-24 after 51 minutes.
From the kick-off Western Province ran and in a flamboyant mixture of forwards and backs they raced downfield till Du Preez passed to energetic Kobus van Dyk who scored. 32-24 after 53 minutes.
Western Province won a Griquas scrum and then a Griquas line-out as they got more and more on top.
Du Preez kicked a penalty goal and then Western Province won a Griqua scrum and the visitors bashed at the line till Carr smashed his way over for a try, and suddenly the score was 42-24 with 10 minutes to play. But still the Griquas fought on. From a scrum they bashed at the line and forceful Jonathan Adendorff forced his way over for a try near the posts. 42-31.
With two minutes to play Du Preez kicked a penalty goal and then the game finished with some thrilling running as Kok fielded a Griqua chip at his own 10-metre line and the ball went left to Leolin Zas on the half-way line and the speedster turned it on, racing downfield and then going on a speedy diagonal to score at the posts and so the final score was 52-31, but it was not soft and easy.
Man of the Match: Huw Jones sparkled brightest in this evening match. He was fast, strong and skilful.
Tries:Jonker, Van Rooyen, Swarts, Adendorff
Cons: Swart 2, Swarts 2
For Western Province:
Tries: De Jongh, Mbonambi, Jones, Kok, Carr, Zas
Cons: Du Preez 5
Pens: Du Preez 4
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Jacobus Jonker, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Wandile Putuma, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacement: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Jonathan Adendorff, 19 Jason Fraser, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swarts, 22 Eric Zana.
Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Smith, 19 Dave Ribbans, 20 Jurie van Vuuren, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Johnny Kotze.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Jaco Kotze
TMO: Marius Jonker