It was a leisurely Saturday stroll for Western Province (WP), running in 14 tries over a hapless Falcons outfit to a massive 92-15 win, and closing the gap further on the final four in the Currie Cup log.
Rugby 365 reports that WP’s bonus-point victory in Cape Town on Saturday sees them just five points away from fourth position – pending the outcome of the Cheetahs game on Saturday – in this gruelling race for the play-offs.
On Monday, Western Province knew they were going to win by a huge margin. On Monday the Falcons knew they were going to lose by a huge margin. And that’s how the match looked. One team was on the field to have fun the other in the embarrassed hope that they could get off as soon as possible and head back to the East Rand.
That does not make for enthralling rugby. Enthralling it certainly was not but there were moments of entertainment, especially those provided by Andries Bekker, even taller than his father and faster. He scored five tries before he was subbed with half an hour to go. The individual record of tries in a match for Western Province is five – held by Justin Swart, Breyton Paulse and Egon Seconds. Now a lock joins them.
Bekker was subbed, not because he was playing badly but because he had a dose of flu during the week. His father suggested that he get flu every week! But he was a delight and his tries were delightful, especially his first, Western Province’s third – the third of 14 in a match of 16 tries.
The Falcons had a better second half and scored two tries, which pleased the modest crowd.
In the first half the Falcons played with the ugly berg wind which made the day unnaturally hot, but they played poorly. They got little ball and when they did, either they kicked it to Western Province or Western Province took it away from them. So half-time came with Western Province leading 54-3.
Western Province started the match doing all sorts of “clever” things.
The first scrum of the match was for the Falcons but they were freekicked. Ricky Januarie tapped and broke. He gave to Jean de Villiers who straightened up and Schalk Brits scored. Peter Grant, back from injury and kicking like a metronome, converted. 7-0.
When Western Province were penalised at a tackle scrumhalf Poerie van Rooyen goaled the long kick. 7-3 after seven minutes.
The Falcons were freekicked at their second scrum and Western Province went right, left and right again to big Sireli Naqelevuki who simply burst through to score. 14-3 after 10 minutes.
Then came Bekker’s first try. The Falcons were moving the ball somewhere in the Western Province half when a pass went to ground. Like a giraffe at a drinking hole, Bekker bent down, picked up the ball and raced 55 metres down the middle of the field to score at the posts while the crowd roared with delight. 21-3 after 17 minutes.
Western Province turned a penalty into a five-metre scrum, mauled and scored in a mass with the ball in Luke Watson’s possession, which was a reminder that Watson was playing. 28-3 after 23 minutes. For the record that was the bonus-point try.
From a tackle/ruck Western Province went right. Grant held the ball back as Bekker came running round behind him from the left to take a tiny pass and cut right through to run 25 metres to score. 35-3 after 26 minutes.
De Villiers broke and headed for the line. He was tackled but Tonderai Chavhanga, across from the right wing, picked up and scored. 42-3 after 30 minutes.
Grant collected a kick inside the Western Province 22 and the next minute Conrad Jantjes was speeding free down the right. He threw a long pass infield and there was Bekker to catch and gallop over. 49-3 after 33 minutes.
The next try also started inside the Western Province 22. This time it was Chavhanga who stared the counterattack, speeding past would-be tacklers before giving to Bekker who raced some 30 metres to score. Surprise, surprise, Grant did not convert. The kick hit the crossbar and stayed out. 54-3 after 37 minutes.
The Falcons were a different team in the second half. They played as they usually played, ball in hand, protecting the tackle and they looked sharp. From a scrum in the Western Province 22 Ernie Kruger took the outside Naqelevuki and raced over for a try which Van Rooyen converted. 54-10 after 43 minutes.
The Falcons were penalised five metres from their line. Western Province tapped and there was Bekker stretching over for his remarkable fifth try. 61-10 after 50 minutes.
Bekker went off and AJ Venter had a half an hour on the field.
Play without Bekker became desultory and the spoilt crowd started a slow handclap till, Chavhanga scored. The speedster started and finished the try. He started catching a kick deep in his own half on the right and he started running. He left three would-be tacklers lying flat on their backs and not even within 10 metres of him as he swerved past. Chavhanga gave to Wylie Human who played inside to Chavhanga who scored in the left corner. Grant converted. 68-10.
Human had a hand in the next one as well. This time Naqelevuki gave him the ball and Human ran down the left touch-line before playing inside to Human who scored. Joe Pietersen, on and at flyhalf for Grant, converted. 75-10 after 63 minutes.
After a five-metre scrum De Villiers reached over to score. 80-10 with 11 minutes to play.
Pietersen broke clean through well inside his own half and looked set fair to score but gave to Bolla Conradie who scored. 85-10 with eight minutes to play.
The Falcons came back and after many phases Kruger raced down the left touch-line to score. 85-15 with two minutes left.
Just enough time for Western Province to go on the attack and a try for Nick Köster, which Pietersen converted. 92-15.
For Western Province:
Tries: Bekker 5, De Villiers, Kritzinger, Conradie, Watson, Brits, Naqelevuki 2, Chavhanga 2
Cons: Grant 9, Pietersen 2
Tries: Kruger 2
Con: Van Rooyen
Pen: Van Rooyen
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Wylie Human, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Joe Pietersen, 22 Morgan Newman.
Falcons: 15 Nicky Kritzinger, 14 Dewald Pretorius, 13 Ernie Kruger, 12 Showan Smith, 11 Luvo Sogidashe, 10 Hanno Coetzee (captain), 9 Poerie van Rooyen, 8 Sean Plaatjies, 7 Marius Coetzer, 6 Warren Perkins, 5 Wouter Moore, 4 Ruhan van Jaarsveld, 3 Dirk Smit, 2 Jody Jeneker, 1 Gavin Whittingham.
Replacements: 16 Rayno Barnes, 17 Frik Venter, 18 Reg Perkins, 19 Emile Verster, 20 Gerrie Odendaal, 21 Jeff Perkins, 22 TBC.
Referee: Christie du Preez
Touch judges: François Veldsman, Eugenia Daniels