Robert du Preez kicked a 78th-minute penalty goal to steer WP to a 30-28 win over Boland and into the semi-finals. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result is enough to propel Province into the playoffs. They will face the Blue Bulls in the semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in two weeks' time.
The performance against Boland, however, left a lot to be desired. Coach John Dobson will breathe a sigh of relief after his side scored 10 points in the final eight minutes to claim the victory.
Boland struck first through powerful flanker Shaun Adendorff. WP hit back in the second quarter. By half-time, they were out to a comfortable 17-7 lead.
That changed in the 50th minute when fullback Adriaan Carelse rounded off an 80m counter-attack to score for the visitors. Theuns Kotze added the extras to give Boland the lead, and signal a shift in momentum.
Boland controlled possession well to score from close range in the 62nd minute. When WP failed to control the subsequent kick-off, Boland loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht scooped it up and raced down the touchline to score. Despite the difficult angle of the kick, Kotze completed the conversion.
At 28-20, Boland were in sight of a shock victory against their Cape rivals. This outcome seemed more and more likely as the hosts conspired to make mistakes in their own half, and hand the Bolanders possession.
But Boland would make several errors of their own to give Province the chance to hit back. They conceded a soft penalty in the 72nd minute, and WP booted the ball upfield and set the lineout. WP won another penalty and opted for a scrum. The decision was vindicated when Dave Ribbans scored from a subsequent phase.
Du Preez kicked the conversion to narrow the deficit to a single point. While the WP flyhalf had a forgettable game in general play, his accuracy in front of goal was ultimately the difference between Province winning and losing this game. Had he missed just one kick, WP may have missed out on the playoffs.
With four minutes remaining, Boland tried to run down the clock. It was a mistake.
They conceded a penalty within their own territory. Du Preez stepped up to nail the penalty and take his team into the lead.
WP – Tries: Scott van Breda, Kobus van Dyk, Dave Ribbans. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Du Preez (3).
Boland – Tries: Shaun Aderdorff, Adriaan Carelse, Francois Hanekom, Jacques Englebrecht. Conversions: Theuns Kotze (4).
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Scott van Breda, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 JP Smith, 19 Dave Ribbans, 20 Jurie van Vuuren, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Werner Kok.
Boland Cavaliers – 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Logan Basson, 13 Gerrit Van Wyk, 12 PJ Vermeulen, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandré Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Hanno Kitshoff, 4 Shaun McDondald, 3 Francois Hanekom, 2 Clemen Lewis (c), 1 Basil Short.
Subs: 16 Francois Esterhuyzen, 17 Enoch Mnyaka, 18 Linda Thwala, 19 Wayne Wilschut, 20 Joubert Horn, 21 Gerhard Jordaan, 22 Sergio Torrens.
Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images