Fourteen-man WP smash Bulls
Fourteen-man WP smash BullsSHARE
Western Province cemented their position at the top of the Currie Cup standings with a deserved 29-18 win over the Blue Bulls.
Going to Loftus Versfeld and winning is always a feat. Doing it with 14 players for 46 minutes is more miracle than feat.
That Western Province had only 14 men for 46 minutes was not the Blue Bulls' fault nor was it the fault of the rest of the Western Province squad.
It was the fault of Michael Rhodes who, standing on his feet, stamped on the face of Jono Ross, who was lying on the ground.
It's hard to find any extenuating or mitigating circumstances in that act. It happened near touch and an assistant referee who drew the referee's attention to the incident. The referee referred the matter to the TMO who put it up on the big screen. The referee had no hesitation in issuing a red card.
Four minutes after Rhodes was sent off, Western Province scored a great try, making a statement that they had no intention of being undone by their reduced numbers.
In fact they scored more points with him off than they had with him on. It was a brave performance.
The Blue Bulls would have been closer at the end but for missed kicks at goal and a forward pass just as the clock went past the 80-minute mark. At the end they were four points short of a bonus point for being close losers. On the other hand Western Province took their chances. Kurt Coleman hit an upright with a long kick but otherwise they goaled six set kicks at goal. Six out of seven is better than two out of five, for the sides scored two tries each.
The Blue Bulls had a better look in at line-outs. They had 19 to throw into to Western Province's six. They had five scrums but they did not go well, even though Western Province had to make a plan for Rhodes's absence. Of their five scrums, they lost one, were freekicked twice and penalised once.
The encounter started on a sombre note as the teams stood in respect for three deceased rugby men – Kwera Moremi of the Leopards Under-21 who died in the sea at East London after his side's match with border. 48-year-old prop Verwoerd Roodt who played for Northern Transvaal and Eastern Province and Koos Basson, former president of the Western Province Rugby Union and much involved in the workings of SARU. He suffered a heart attack watching the Springboks play the All Blacks in Auckland.
From the outset Western Province, who kicked off, went through quick phases till Jono Ross was penalised and Coleman goaled. 3-0 after 4 minutes. Western Province had two more sessions of quick phases but the Blue Bulls defence coped with them effectively. The third phases session ended when Coleman tried a grubber. Grant Hattingh picked up and pounded down the left touchline at surprising speed for a lock. He had Akona Ndungane and Sampie Mastriet with him but opted to go it alone for the corner but Damian De Allende tackled him into touch. It was a waste of an opportunity. Western Province threw into a line-out five metres from their line, which Hattingh won to set the Blue Bulls attacking again till they passed back to Handré Pollard who dropped a goal that went over off an upright. 3-3 after 10 minutes.
The Blue Bulls were freekicked at their first scrum of the evening and Western Province tapped and went through phases again. They were close on the left till Louis Schreuder gave to Gio Aplon who cut in at top speed. He shot between two Blue Bulls forwards who tackled each other and scored close in. 10-3 after 13 minutes.
Pollard had two straightforward penalty attempts and missed them both. But penalties at tackles gave each side three points. 13-6 after 29 minutes.
Rohan Kitshoff replaced burly lock Mthetheleli Fuzani who seemed to have hurt a leg. Rhodes then went in to lock. Rhodes was not long at lock for he was sent off. This meant that the Western Province line-out possibilities hardly existed beyond De Kock Steenkamp.
Juan de Jongh won a turnover off the Blue Bulls and Western Province quickly spread it wide to their left. De Allende chipped ahead and the ball bounced a metre or so in from touch where Cheslin Kolbe grabbed it. Faced with Jürgen Visser, Kolbe passed inside to De Allende who sauntered over for the try at the posts. 20-6, which was the half-time score.
Western Province started the second half in wonky fashion. Coleman knocked on the kick-off and Western Province were penalised at the collapsed scrum. Pollard kicked out for a five-metre line-out. Clearly the Blue Bulls were going to overwhelm the seven-man pack, but the seven-man pack repelled their maul and instead the Blue Bulls went on a one-man charging mission till Ross got through Rohan Kitshoff, stretched and scored. Pollard converted. 20-13 after 43 minutes. It was 32 minutes before they scored again.
In the meantime Western Province went up by increments of three – a penalty goal by Colemen and two by his replacement Gary van Aswegen. The Blue Bulls came so close to scoring when they won a Western Province line-out and went through phases but massive Paul Willemse lost the ball forward in trying to ground it for a try.
Nic Groom came into scrumhalf and the service from the forwards speeded up considerably. Jacques Engelbrecht was yellowcarded for a high tackle and the penalties took the score to 29-13 with six minutes to play but a minute later the Blue Bulls were smashing at the Western Province line till David Bulbring picked up and plunged over. 29-20.
Francois Venter went through Aplon and over in the left corner but the TMO advised that the pass from Lohan Jacobs had been forward. but he also recommended a penalty against De Kock Steenkamp for a high tackle. Time was up but the Blue Bulls tapped and attacked till they lost the ball and Van Aswegen kicked it out.
Man of the Match: The candidates are all from, Western Province – Gio Aplon with his try and strong clearing kicks, energetic Nizaam Carr who is both athletic and strong, Steven Kitshoff who was a power in scrums and general play, everywhere man Scarra Ntubeni and our choice big centre Damian De Allende who saved a certain try and scored a brilliant one, who tackled, rucked and charged. He even played flank at times.
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Ross, Bullbring
For Western Province:
Tries: Aplon, De Allende
Cons: Coleman 2
Pens: Coleman 3, Van Aswegen 2
Yellow card: Jacques Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls, 59 – foul play, high tackle)
Red card: Michael Rhodes (Western Province, 35 – foul play, stomping in the face)
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 William Small-Smith, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.
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 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 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 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge, Sieg van Staden
TMO: Johan Greeff with Pieter de Bruin in training