Western Province produced a powerful first-half performance to set up a 45-34 bonus-point win over the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Bulls were blown away in the first 40 minutes of the contest. The Province forwards dominated at the set pieces and collisions. Halfbacks Jano Vermaak and Damian Willemse took excellent options to ensure that the hosts played most of their rugby deep in Bulls territory.
The outside backs finished well to ensure that WP scored six tries and 42 points in the first half alone. It was the perfect response by Province in the wake of a weak showing against Griquas on Wednesday.
The Bulls could not have been worse in the first half. Their forwards struggled at the scrums and lineouts, and the defence was too passive. This allowed WP to dictate the pace of the game and to play at a high tempo.
Province certainly made the most of that front-foot ball. Willemse stepped past several would-be defenders to score under the posts in the 12th minute. That movement highlighted the energy and intent of the hosts as well as the Bulls’ lack of accuracy and effort.
Seabelo Senatla scored his second try of the evening, and the team’s sixth, shortly before half-time. EW Viljoen was sent to the sin bin for a no-arms tackle, yet the hosts still managed to keep the Bulls out in the final play of the half.
The Bulls were the more physical and accurate side during the opening stages of the second stanza. Kefentse Mahlo scored shortly after the break while Viljoen was still in the bin. The winger crossed the line again in the 58th minute and Tony Jantjies added the extras.
SP Marais slotted a penalty on the hour-mark to stretch WP’s lead to 22 points. The fullback kicked seven from seven on Saturday to finish with a personal haul of 15 points.
Province conceded a fourth try, though, when Bulls reserve hooker Johan Grobbelaar crashed over in the 68th minute. That score allowed the Bulls to come away from the clash with a bonus point.
WP were guilty of complacency in the second stanza. They failed to win the collisions in the period after half-time, and gave away far too many penalties at the breakdown. This in turn allowed the Bulls to build some momentum and play much of the second half in WP territory.
The second-half scoreline was 21-3 in favour of the Bulls. WP still did enough on defence, even after conceding a second yellow card to Michael Kumbirai in the dying stages, to prevent the Bulls from claiming a second bonus point for losing by seven or less.
Western Province – Tries: Nizaam Carr, Damian Willemse, SP Marais, Seabelo Senatla (2), Scarra Ntubeni. Conversion: Marais (6). Penalty: Marais.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Piet van Zyl, Kefentse Mahlo (2), Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Western Province – 15 SP Marais, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Eddie Zandberg, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dan Kriel.
Blue Bulls – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Kefentse Mahlo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Boom Prinsloo (c), 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Abongile Nonkontwana, 19 Shaun Adendorff, 20 Andre Warner, 21 JT Jackson, 22 Duncan Matthews.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images