The tried and tested boot of flyhalf Willem de Waal saw Western Province triumph 9-3 over reigning Currie Cup champions Free State Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
Three penalties by Free State old boy De Waal was enough to see the Cheetahs surrender their unbeaten Currie Cup record. The Cheetahs’ only reply was a lone penalty by their flyhalf Chris Rossouw.
A heavy downpour greeted the start of the match but thanks to the superb drainage system the playing surface, although yielding, presented no terrors for the players.
As anticipated, both teams kicked excessively at the start to gain territorial advantage rather than try to run to the ball into the opposition’s half.
WP, on occasion, were willing to tempt fate by trying to run the ball in trying conditions and they might have reaped the benefits but they failed to work the ball through the phases because of the excellent contesting on the ground by the Cheetahs loosies Henrich Brussouw and Hendro Scholtz, who caused WP to concede at least three free-kicks early on the match.
With the rain relenting and the sun breaking through the cloud cover WP’s fortunes took a turn for the better as flyhalf Willem de Waal came good with two of this three penalty attempts at goal in the first 30 minutes of play.
Chris Rossouw, the Cheetahs flyhalf, who was unsuccessful with one long-range penalty attempt from the halfway line hoisted several up-and-unders which WP coped very well with.
A minute ahead of the break WP launched a penetrating counter-attack from inside their own in-goal area and it looked promising until the move broke down on the halfway line.
The sides returned to the dressing rooms at the break with WP leading 6-0, and deservedly so.
The Cheetahs returned to the field soon afterwards to practise a few drills ahead of the restart.
Second-half play saw far less of Rossouw’s boot as the Cheetahs decided to the run at the WP defence, a ploy they seemed to avoid at all costs in the first half.
The tactic worked well as they pinned WP down in their own first for the first 10 minutes of the second half, However, their only advance in the face of stubborn defence by WP was a penalty by Rossouw, to reduce the deficit (6-3).
WP finally managed to break out of their half when their enterprising fullback Gio Aplon hoisted a high up-and-under which he followed up superbly to make an onslaught on the Cheetahs tryline.
However, he was collared some 10m from the tryline but the Cheetahs infringed in the process and De Waal was target with the resultant penalty (9-3).
This setback seemed to cause the Cheetahs to crawl back into their shells and opted to trade on Rossouw’s prodigious boot once again in an attempt to drive WP back into their own half.
As play reached the hour mark the action was confined mainly between the two 10m lines with neither side managing to get a grip on the game. WP tried to be adventurous but their efforts were thwarted as they battled to move the ball through the phases.
The Cheetahs gained the initiative towards the end of the match although they could never find the cohesion to make one telling raid on the WP defence in the final 10 minutes of the match, and consequently had to surrender their unbeaten record in the 2008 Currie Cup competition.
Western Province: Penalties: Willem de Waal (3).
Free State Cheetahs: Penalty: Chris Rossouw.Tweet