Western Province erased a 15-point deficit in the second half to clinch a stunning comeback win over the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday.
Despite poor defensive play from both sides, this was a riveting contest with WP playing catch-up for large parts of the game. But the hosts ultimately showed wonderful determination late in the second half to record a crucial 40-39 win on home soil.
The Cheetahs will be left wondering just what had sparked this capitulation which led to their downfall in a match they should’ve won. The result keeps them rooted to the bottom the log.
Matchflow: The scoreline suggests a closely fought encounter, but the Cheetahs actually had this bonus-point victory wrapped up when they scored their fourth try just before the break. From there, WP were forced to play catch-up rugby and while they gave it a decent go, the hosts failed to make a complete comeback.
The sides were neck and neck in the opening 30 minutes, with the Cheetahs holding a slight 21-16 lead. But the visitors raced out to a 28-16 advantage on the stroke of half time, which was further extended with a penalty by Ruan Pienaar shortly after the restart.
The whole of the second half was complete madness, though, as both sets of defences fell by the wayside quite spectacularly. The only difference was that WP took all the chances that came their way and it resulted in three tries, while the Cheetahs scored just one and spurned several other opportunities.
Trailing by 11 with about 15 minutes remaining, Province wrestled back the momentum to cross for two tries sandwiched between a penalty off the boot of Pienaar for a 39-37 score to set up a grand finale. And it was grand, because Tim Swiel put WP in the lead with a penalty, which proved to be the winning kick. But, with time up on the clock, the Cheetahs kept the ball alive and almost caught WP’s defence lacking when a long kick into space sat up nicely in the in-goal area. Luckily for WP, Warrick Gelant tracked back well and hacked the ball over the deadball line to end the nine-try thriller.