Province power into final

Cheslin Kolbe scored a brace in WP’s 31-23 hammering of the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.

The result was expected, the degree of victory less so. On Saturday, Western Province dominated the physical contest, kicked well out of hand, and were simply devastating on the counter-attack.

It was not a perfect performance by any stretch, but it was enough to win the game comfortably and secure home-ground advantage in next week’s final against the Golden Lions.

The Bulls got it wrong on just about every front. They came into this clash with the wrong attitude, and were pummeled in the forward exchanges, especially in the first half.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke got it wrong when he backed Jacques-Louis Potgieter at No 10 ahead of Springbok incumbent Handré Pollard. Potgieter kicked poorly out of hand, and missed some important shots on goal.

Playing at No 12, Pollard tested the WP defence regularly. However, one cannot help but feel that the Bulls would have benefited from his influence in that decision-making position of flyhalf. They certainly looked more dangerous when Pollard switched to 10 late in the contest.

That said, both Potgieter and Pollard spent the majority of the game on the back foot. The WP forwards bossed the collisions, and managed to manufacture several turnovers through their overwhelming physical dominance at the contact point.

Coach Allister Coetzee’s decision to back three ball-carriers in the WP loose trio was vindicated. Nizaam Carr forced a turnover in the 16th minute, which allowed WP to counter-attack from deep within their 22. Seabelo Senatla showcased his speed in the buildup, and Cheslin Kolbe was on hand to finish.

Another breakdown turnover in the 28th minute would culminate in another try for Kolbe. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis took a terrific option when he put a grubber through for Kobus van Wyk to chase. The ball sat up for the winger, who then produced a neat touch to put away Kolbe for a score under the posts.

The Bulls hit back in the period before and after half-time, scoring 16 unanswered points. The accurate boot of Catrakilis, however, would ensure that the hosts remained in front by a comfortable margin.

Scoreboard pressure forced the men from Pretoria to take chances, and as their desperation grew they began to make more mistakes. They grabbed a try at the death and Pollard converted to lend some respectability to the scoreline. The reality was they were outplayed by a better team.

WP may have won comfortably, but they will know that they have plenty to sharpen before next week’s decider. They were dominant in the first half of the clash against the Bulls, but only managed to score six points in the second.

The Lions made a statement when they thrashed the Sharks 50-20 in the first semi-final. They will present a greater attacking threat to the WP defence next week, and will also demand more of the Province pack over a period of 80 minutes.

Western Province – Tries: Cheslin Kolbe (2), Nic Groom. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Catrakilis (3). Drop goal: Catrakilis.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Dean Greyling, Callie Visagie. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Handré Pollard: Penatlies: Potgieter (3).

Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 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 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 EW Viljoen.

Blue Bulls – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Handré Pollard, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wiaan Liebenberg, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sampie Mastriet, 22 Jesse Kriel.

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli