Western Province romped to a 50-28 bonus-point victory against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The result sees WP extending their unbeaten run in this year’s domestic competition to five games, while ending the Sharks’ winning streak.
While many – pundits and supporters alike – expected a tightly contested affair between the two form teams in the competition, WP simply had too much firepower for their visitors. The Cape side is now five points clear at the top of the standings and with one round of matches remaining, has done enough to secure a home semi-final berth.
This wasn’t at all an exhibition for defensive organisation, with both teams found wanting in that department. And while the lineouts and breakdowns were equally contested, Province bossed the scrums and that dominance ultimately laid a solid foundation for their victory.
A poor kick-off that was read perfectly by the Sharks saw them score in the opening 40 seconds of the match through Marius Louw, who latched on to a perfect pass off the ground by Lwazi Mvovo. That initial lapse in concentration did little to deter WP.
With a clear desire to play an up-tempo game, the hosts proceeded to score 31 unanswered points. No 8 Jaco Coetzee, a late replacement in the team for Juarno Augustus, centre Ruhan Nel, fullback Dillyn Leyds and wing Sergeal Petersen all scored as Province wrapped up the four-try bonus point inside the opening 25 minutes. SP Marais nailed the conversions and a penalty, while being mightily influential in open play.
On several occasions throughout the half, the Sharks let several golden opportunities slip on attack as a result of poor handling and decision-making. Fullback Curwin Bosch and centre Marius Lou, in particular, were guilty of those indiscretions.
There would be a mini-comeback by the visitors before the break as they rallied to dot down twice to trail 31-21 at the break. That deficit was reduced to just three shortly after the restart when replacement Aphelele Fassi finished in the right corner.
Compared to the breathless first half, the second stanza was an arm-wrestle. Neither side was able to put the game away until the last 15 minutes when Province upped the ante once again to seal the deal.
Marais, JJ Engelbrecht and Chad Solomon ran in tries to take their team to the 50-point mark.
Western Province – Tries: Jaco Coetzee, Ruhan Nel, Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, SP Marais, JJ Engelbrecht, Chad Solomon. Conversions: Marais (6). Penalty: Marais.
Sharks – Tries: Marius Louw, Tyler Paul, Gideon Koegelenberg, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Rob du Preez (4).
Western Province – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Cris Massyn, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (c), 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Ruben van Heerden, 19 Luke Stringer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Leolin Zas, 22 Aphelele Fassi.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images