Western Province claimed their 33rd Currie Cup title with a dramatic 19-16 win against the Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff missed a last-minute penalty that would have taken the game into extra time, having missed another three earlier in the match.
In stark contrast, Demetri Catrakilis was successful with all five of his goal kicks, justifying his selection ahead of Kurt Coleman.
Province had led 13-0 at the break but the Lions fought back well to make it 13-13 after 57 minutes. At that stage, the visitors were the stronger side, but another two penalties from Catrakilis got the hosts back in front.
Ruan Combrinck then slotted a late long-range penalty to reduce the deficit to three, and with a minute to go, the Lions won a lineout inside the WP half and eventually the penalty that Boshoff missed.
The Lions will regard this final as one that got away considering their dominance up front and the amount of possession they had in the second half. Poor goal-kicking also cost them a massive 15 points.
They simply did not handle the pressure of a final as well as WP and played some brainless rugby at times.
Province, meanwhile, were cool and composed from the start, with two Catrakilis penalties giving them an early 6-0 lead.
Boshoff missed his first shot at goal, before Courtnall Skosan's chip kick was carried over the tryline by Catrakilis. The Lions bashed away from the 5m scrum, and were awarded a penalty, which Derick Minnie opted to tap. The ball was lost forward soon after.
Province then blew a great try-scoring opportunity themselves when Nizaam Carr threw a dummy and broke through the Lions' defence, only for Jaco Taute to knock on inside the 22 when he had unmarked teammates on his outside.
While the Lions spent some time in the WP half they had nothing to show for it as Boshoff was off target with his second penalty attempt.
WP then struck a big blow four minutes before the break when they again took the ball through several phases and quick hands from Catrakilis allowed Taute to make amends for his earlier blunder with a try that made it 13-0.
Combrinck had a chance to claw three points back for the Lions two minutes after the half-time hooter, but his 50m penalty attempt went well wide.
The visitors had dominated the scrums in the first half and they won a penalty early in the second that Boshoff sent between the posts.
The Lions then got themselves right back into the game when a poor WP kick allowed Van der Walt to counter-attack. Eventually, the pressure told with Ross Cronjé going blind and putting Van der Walt over in the right-hand corner.
Boshoff nailed the touchline conversion and then attempted a drop goal, which touched a WP hand and resulted in a 5m scrum, from which the Lions were awarded a penalty that levelled the scores.
The hosts responded with another two penalties from Catrakilis, with Boshoff then hitting the upright with his next attempt.
The Lions flyhalf would have a chance to make amends, and take the game into extra time, but when he missed again the celebrations at Newlands began.
Western Province – Try: Jaco Taute. Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalties: Catrakilis (4).
Golden Lions – Try: Jaco van der Walt. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff. Penalties: Boshoff (2), Ruan Combrinck.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
Golden Lions – 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Harold Vorster.
Photo: Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images