Vodacom Western Province dramatically overturned a 14-3 halftime deficit to run out thrilling 26-17 winners over the Blue Bulls in an Absa Currie Cup match at Newlands on Saturday.
Report courtesy www.wprugby.co.za.
Two tries by WP in the final six minutes of the match allowed the home side to take the lead for the first time in the match, as WP’s attacking prowess finally broke down the Blue Bulls defence.
WP made their intentions clear at the start when they tried to run the ball at every turn, including one suicidal attempt sprung from their tryline.
With this approach there was an early sustained nine minute spell when they pinned the Bulls down in their own 22m area, but came away without reward.
The real problem for WP was that they were trying to force past the stubborn Bulls defence at time when a well-timed pass could have brought a deserving reward.
Instead, WP had to rely on the trusty boot of flyhalf Willem de Waal to secure an early advance when he goaled a 13th-minute penalty (3-0).
Once the Bulls were able to absorb the early pressure they bounced back strongly with counter-attacks which WP were hard-pressed to contain.
On one occasion the Bulls looked like making a breakthrough after centre Wynand Olivier split the WP defence with a neat grubber but winger Akona Ndungane could not gather cleanly to round off the Bulls attack.
However, the Bulls did come good in the 27th minute, when they were presented with their first real opportunity to score.
The Bulls won their ball from a line-out some ten metres away from the line and after scrumhalf JP Joubert gathered the WP defence collapsed completely to give the No 9 a free passage to score the first of the visitors’ two soft tries.
Morne Styen added the conversion in the 27th minute (7-3).
There was more charity from WP when against the run play Bulls eighthman Pedrie Wannenburg intercepted a pass near the halfway line and ran in for his side’s second try in the 32nd minute.
Steyn added the conversion to give the Bulls a commanding 14-3 lead at the break.
WP started the second half as impressively as the first but after six minutes of attacking the Bulls defence they again had to settle for a 46th-minute goaled penalty by De Waal to advance their cause (14-6).
This advance by WP was cancelled out two minute later when Steyn snapped over a drop goal (17-6).
WP continued to enjoy the upper hand territorially but they couldn’t find a way to breakdown the stubborn Bulls defence and this was case for most of the second-half play.
On the hour Bulls substitute Hilton Lobberts was penalised for a late charge on De Waal, who made no mistake with the resultant penalty to reduce the deficit (17-9).
A heel against the head for WP replacement hooker Deon Fourie in the 65th minute sparked off a spirited attempt to save the match.
WP neatly relayed the ball along the backline but another promising move was thwarted when fullback Gio Aplon was held up some 20 meters from the Bulls tryline.
Another De Waal penalty, his fourth in the match, saw WP close the gap yet again to 17-12 in the 68th minute.
Lobberts was yellow-carded a minute later but WP were unable to take advantage although they had always looked threatening until one magic moment by Aplon six minutes from the end turned the match on its head.
He started a counter-attack under his own posts and he rounded off the move at the other end of the ground to draw the scores level at 17-all.
De Waal goaled the conversion to give WP the lead for the first time in the match (19-17).
This try really set WP alight and they made good their final sortie into the Bulls 22m area with a great dash for the tryline by centre Gcobani Bobo, in the 78th minute.
De Wall converted again for the 26-17 win.
Vodacom WP: Tries; Gio Aplon, Gcobani Bobo. Conversion. Willem de Waal (2). Penalties: De Waal (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls: Tries: JP Joubert, Pedrie Wannenburg. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Dropped goal: Steyn.Tweet