Western Province claimed a much-needed 52-31 bonus-point win over Griquas on Friday night. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Coming into the clash, just a solitary log point separated Griquas and Province in fourth and fifth place on the log, but this result has enabled the Cape-based side to leapfrog their way into a playoff place.
Considering that WP will finish their campaign with an encounter against lowly Boland, last year’s runners-up now look guaranteed to earn a semi-final berth, while Griquas (who face the Cheetahs next weekend) look set to miss out despite a highly encouraging campaign up to this point.
Although Province trailed by four points at the break, the visitors produced a clinical second-half performance, with the pack particularly stepping up at scrum time, and in the end they impressively outscored their opponents 35-10 in the final 40 minutes.
Griquas had completely dominated the opening quarter, enjoying some 70% of possession, and they were fully deserving of an early lead when JW Jonker was able to twist his way over the tryline early on.
Yet, with Griquas on the attack once again, possession was coughed up after 12 phases, and from within their 22, WP launched an incisive counter-attack as Huw Jones eventually put De Jongh away to score under the posts.
Matters continued to ebb and flow as Griquas scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen and Mbonambi went over for tries on either side of the half-an-hour mark, but it was the hosts who generally continued to enjoy the better of the exchanges.
All too easily they seemed capable of carving open the WP defence through slick handling, and after another impressive piece of buildup play, replacement André Swarts darted over to put Griquas back in front.
And while WP drew three points back before the break through the boot of Rob du Preez, Griquas fully deserved their 21-17 lead (as evidenced by the fact that Province had been forced to make 74 tackles to 38).
At the start of the second half, Du Preez and Swarts traded penalties before the match finally swung in the favour of Province as a beautifully worked move saw Cheslin Kolbe put Huw Jones away for a crucial try.
Just two minutes later, another wonderful sequence of interplay this time saw Werner Kok find his way over the tryline, with WP suddenly opening up an eight-point buffer.
From there, Province continued to play with confidence and composure, and Nizaam Carr well and truly put the result beyond any doubt when he scored in the 70th minute.
Griquas replacement Jonathan Adendorf and WP winger Leolin Zas both went over during the latter stages of the clash, but it would be a result to celebrate for the visitors.
Griquas – Tries: JW Jonker, Rudi van Rooyen, André Swarts, Jonathan Adendorf. Conversions: Clinton Swart (2), Swart (2). Penalty: Swart.
Western Province – Tries: Juan de Jongh, Bongi Mbonambi, Huw Jones, Werner Kok, Nizaam Carr, Leolin Zas. Conversions: Rob du Preez (5). Penalties: Du Preez (4).
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 JW Jonker, 13 Johnathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Jono van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Wandile Putuma, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Vlooi Kotzé, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Jonathan Adendorf, 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 (c), 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Smith, 19 Dave Ribbans, 20 Jurie van Vuuren, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Johnny Kotze.
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images