Vodacom Western Province kept their semi-final hopes alive with a hard-fought 30-18 (halftime 15-6) victory over the Wildeklawer Griquas in an Absa Currie Cup match in Cape Town on Friday night.
Zelim Nel writes for Superrugby that the home team conceded a penalty-try and had two tries reversed by the television match official in a match where their desperation for a five-point haul saw them bumble a number of promising forays into the Griquas red zone.
Western Province disregarded at least four opportunities to build a lead through a steady stream of kickable penalties in the first half, as they persisted with a wide-ranging attack against a Griquas team determined not to commit numbers at the breakdown.
The home team endured due to their accurate tactical play and a superior kick-chase, and their ability to tackle the visitors back in contact negated any momentum the Griquas gathered with the ball in hand.
The Griquas pinned their hopes on patient defence, strong competition at the set piece and they flustered the home team by ambushing them whenever the right opportunity presented itself at the breakdown, forcing several turnovers in the first half.
Western Province scored four tries through scrumhalf Enrico Januarie, flanker Francois Louw, winger Tonderai Chavhanga and centre Jean de Villiers while flyhalf Peter Grant kicked two conversions and a pair of penalties.
The Griquas were awarded a penalty-try while flyhalf Conrad Barnard slotted one conversion and two penalties and number eight Gareth Krause added a try.
The 13,000-strong home crowd took their first opportunity to voice their disapproval of the TMO five minutes into play after he ruled that De Villiers’s pass to centre-partner Sireli Naqelevuki – which resulted in Conrad Jantjes scoring – had travelled forward, and referee Jonathan Kaplan consequently brought play back to just outside the Griquas 22 for a scrum.
But Januarie avenged the TMO’s decision three minutes later from a WP 5-metre lineout when a maul collapsed and the scrumhalf dummy-passed before nipping between two fringe defenders to score under the crossbar.
A pair of Barnard penalties reduced WP’s lead to one point before Louw crashed over from short range, in the phases following a 5-metre scrum, to start the second quarter.
Grant added a penalty for the home team with 12 minutes remaining, but a frustrated WP outfit jogged off the field with a nine-point lead at the break having squandered a number of try-scoring opportunities through over-exuberance and unforced errors.
The WP flyhalf added a second penalty just after the restart before Kaplan yellow-carded Griquas lock Stephan Gerber six minutes later for repeated infringements at the breakdown.
The home team made use of the advantage when Naqelevuki floated through the line from second phase deep in Griquas territory, fended off a defender and popped inside to a speeding Chavhanga for the first try of the half.
But the referee gifted the visitors their first five-pointer at the end of third quarter when he adjudged WP winger Wylie Human to have intentionally knocked a pass to ground as the Griquas mounted a threatening attack inside the home team’s 22, and awarded a penalty-try which Barnard converted.
Western Province dominated possession and territory in the fourth quarter as they repeatedly tested the visitors’ outside defenders, but a savvy Griquas outfit weathered much of the barrage by committing the bare minimum of players to the tackle point and fanning out quickly to swamp the home team’s strike runners.
The pressure ultimately chipped away at the visitors resiliency, and when the ball was spun wide to De Villiers after a flurry of phases, he put his head down and was driven over from close range by his team-mates for the all-important bonus point try with 12 minutes remaining.
Griquas lock Wayne van Heerden forced a turnover on the home team’s 10-metre line and burst upfield before the visitors took the ball through a series of phases which led to Krause powering over with three minutes remaining.
The home team had their second try reversed when the TMO found flanker Schalk Burger guilty of foul play after replacement scrumhalf Bolla Conradie scampered over for a try from an exciting counter-attack in the final minute.
The win lifts Western Province to 32 points on the standings, provisionally beating the Cheetahs out of fourth place thanks to a superior points differential, while the Griquas remain in sixth place with 19 log points. Scorers:
WP – Tries: Enrico Januarie, Francois Louw, Tonderai Chavhanga, Jean de Villiers. Conversions: Peter Grant (2). Penalties: Grant (2).
Griquas – Tries: Penalty-try, Gareth Krause. Conversions: Conrad Barnard. Penalties: Barnard (2).Tweet