Western Province beat the EP Elephants 59-12 in Port Elizabeth, while there were also wins for Boland, Griquas, the Pumas, Valke and Griffons in the first round of the Provincial Rugby Challenge. DYLAN JACK reports.
Defending champions WP showed why they will be title contenders again this season with a polished display against a determined EP team.
The visitors were boosted by the return from injury of flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, who marked his first appearance of the year with an early try, bursting through a gap from close range. The Elephants received a further blow when flank Etial Bredenkamp was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul.
Province took advantage of their numerical supremacy by scoring two tries while Bredenkamp was off. First, Maties star Duncan Saal stepped his way through a number of tackles, before fullback Tristan Leyds grabbed Province’s third, after being played in by centre Josh Stander.
The Elephants responded from a 5m scrum, with hooker Allandre van Rooyen driven over the line by his forwards. Saal then got his brace after latching on to a wide pass by Du Plessis to run in untouched and make it 26-7 at half-time.
WP were equally as dominant in the second half. Du Plessis scored his brace, before wing Grant Hermanus finished off a fine move after a turnover in the Elephants’ 22.
EP No 8 Dries van Schalkwyk was driven over the line, but Hermanus then got his second try and replacement hooker Chad Solomons went over next to the posts.
Province finished the game in style as centre Michal Haznar scored their final try.
In the weekend’s other results, Boland beat Border 49-24, Griquas powered past the Sharks XV 50-33, the Pumas saw off the Blue Bulls 36-18, the Valke beat the Welwitschias 39-7 and the Griffons claimed a clinical 47-21 win against the Leopards.
Round 1 results
EP Elephants 12 Western Province 59
Boland Cavaliers 49 Border Bulldogs 24
Griquas 50 Sharks XV 33
Pumas 36 Blue Bulls 18
Welwitschias 7 Valke 39
Leopards 21 Griffons 47
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images