The Golden Lions thrashed Western Province 62-32 at Ellis Park on Friday to claim their ninth consecutive win. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
Saru can save us all some time and give the Currie Cup trophy to the Lions now. Of course, anything can happen in the play-offs, but so good have Johan Ackermann's side been this season that it's hard to see how they can lose a home semi-final and final. Only their own complacency (they seem to get bored when well ahead, allowing the opposition to score soft tries) could trip them up.
Western Province, the reigning champions, were simply blown away at Ellis Park, despite the return of captain Juan de Jongh and the boost they received before kick-off when fullback Cheslin Kolbe passed a fitness test.
The visitors started well enough, with two penalties from Robert du Preez giving them an early 6-3 lead.
But the Lions took charge with two tries in two minutes. First, Lourens Erasmus did well to regather the ball, after initially losing it, to score under the posts. Then an attack that began in the hosts' half finished with a strong run by Jaco Kriel, who put Malcolm Marx away.
Their third try came at the beginning of the second quarter. Erasmus broke away, with his 20m run taking play up to the WP 22, and the ball was quickly recycled to Boshoff, who converted his own try.
A forward pass earlier in the move then denied Courtnall Skosan a five-pointer, but the bonus point was secured on the half-hour mark when Kriel broke away from a ruck and gave the try-scoring pass to Franco Mostert.
Province stopped the rot when Sikhumbuzo Notshe went over from a lineout driving maul only for the Lions to hit back immediately through Howard Mnisi. But the visitors ended the half on a high when Johnny Kotze started and finished an attack to make it 36-20 at the break.
The scoring spree continued at the resumption, with Andries Coetzee and Anthony Volmink dotting down for the Lions within the first 10 minutes to end any slim hopes WP may have had of a comeback win.
The game then entered a bit of a lull, before Kwagga Smith brought the small crowd back to life, and took his team past the 50-point mark with a 67th-minute try.
Notshe scored his second try, and Province's third, but normal activity resumed when Stokkies Hanekom went over for the Lions' ninth.
However, WP did manage to salvage a bonus point from the game when Nic Groom scored in the final minute.
Golden Lions – Tries: Lourens Erasmus, Malcolm Marx, Marnitz Boshoff, Franco Mostert, Howard Mnisi, Andries Coetzee, Anthony Volmink, Kwagga Smith, Stokkies Hanekom. Conversions: Boshoff (5), Jaco van der Walt (2). Penalty: Boshoff.
Western Province – Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe (2), Johnny Kotze, Nic Groom. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Du Preez (2).
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Steph de Wit, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Stokkies Hanekom, 22 Sampie Mastriet.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Chris van Zyl, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Huw Jones.
Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images