A late Kobus van Wyk try lifted Western Province to a 34-29 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
The victory gave WP an unassailable lead at the top of the Currie Cup log heading into the final round next weekend. The Cheetahs will now need results to go their way if they're to make the semi-finals.
It was a cruel end for the Cheetahs, who looked to have secured the victory with a penalty five minutes from time. They were the architects of their own downfall, though, as Sarel Pretorius opted for a quick lineout with time winding down. A player of his experience really should've known better.
The ball was turned over and Juan de Jongh kicked through for Kobus van Wyk to chase. The WP winger showed some fine football skills before regathering and securing the result for last season's beaten finalists.
Both teams contributed to what was a thoroughly entertaining match, with each claiming the four-try bonus point.
Willie du Plessis was the first to cross the whitewash after some sloppy defence from Demetri Catrakilis in the flyhalf channel. WP's response was swift and effective.
After the forwards laid the platform with a lineout drive, the ball was worked wide to De Jongh, who slipped past three Cheetahs defenders to go over for a well-taken try.
Joubert Engelbrecht and Scarra Ntubeni then got in on the act as both teams dealt in tries. Province landed a telling blow after the hooter when a sweeping counter-attack culminated in De Jongh going over unopposed to stretch the lead to 24-14 heading into half-time.
Just two minutes into the second half De Jongh saw yellow for an act of petulance, as he kicked the ball away needlessly. The Cheetahs capitalised on his absence, with Lappies Labuschagné going over off the back of a rolling maul.
Catrakilis kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty, before a Francois Venter try and a Du Plessis penalty moved the Cheetahs to within one point.
They would reclaim the lead, before Pretorius's moment of madness left them with a mountain to climb to make the semi-finals.
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Willie du Plessis, Joubert Engelbrecht, Lappies Labuschagné, Francois Venter. Conversions: Willie du Plessis (3). Penalty: Du Plessis.
Western Province – Tries: Juan de Jongh (2), Scarra Ntubeni, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3), Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Catrakilis (3).
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 JP du Plessis,13 Francois Venter,12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lappies Labuschagné, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Werner Lourens, 3 George Marich, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 19 Henco Venter, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 AJ Coertzen.
Western Province – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Oliver Kebble, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images