A Springbok-studded Western Province scored five tries to comfortably beat the Free State Cheetahs 36 – 15 at Newlands on Saturday.
Province were boosted by the inclusion of seven Springbok players returning from international duty, which included South African captain Jean De Villiers and in-form winger, Bryan Habana.
A high tackle on Nic Groom in the 3rd minute gave Western Province an early opportunity to take the lead and fly-half Demetri Catrakilis obliged by converting the penalty to make the score 3-0.
Six minutes later, things got better for the home team, as good build up play helped De Villiers score in the corner, however, Catrakilis failed to convert the try.
The Cheetahs had an opportunity to close the gap to five points, but Nico Scheepers missed as the score remained 8-0.
Free State winger Raymond Rhule almost grabbed the Cheetahs first try of the game in the 19th minute, but excellent defensive work by Habana stopped him from crossing the whitewash.
The Cheetahs did get their first points of the game a minute later though, as an offside infringement gave Scheepers another shot at goal, which he successfully kicked over to make the score 8-3.
Western Province got their second try of the game from a scrum infringement after a series of handling errors from both teams inside the Cheetahs 22 metre area.
Lock Andries Bekker took it quickly to score, however referee Jonathan Kaplan went to the television match official to confirm the try. Catrakilis kicked the conversion to extend the Cape side’s lead to 15 – 3 in the 31st minute.
Province kept the momentum going and was rewarded with a third try before halftime after another big scrum.
The home side chose to go for touch, which paid dividends as a powerful rolling maul from the lineout saw Deon Fourie score his first try of the match as Province ended the half leading 22-3.
Fourie picked up where he left off after the break, as he broke numerous tackles to score his second of the match after good continuity from the Cape side. Catrakilis kicked the conversion to make the scores 29-3 in the 50th minute.
Province were relentless and excellent phase play from the forwards provided Duane Vermeulen with a fairly simple try, as he increased the scoreto 36-3 in the 60th minute.
The latter stages of the game were dominated by the Free State side however, as countless phases and pressure was eventually rewarded with an unconverted try in the 77th minute through flanker Francois Uys.
Province pushed for a sixth try, but it was the Free State side that had the last say in the game.
Brok Harris failed to catch a tough pass from Groom and Raymond Rhule hacked the ball forward, but was taken over the try line by Juan de Jongh.
This resulted in a five metre scrum, which gave substitute Phillip Snyman the opportunity to score, ending the game at 36-15.
Western Province will now travel to Johannesburg for a semi-final against the Lions, while log leaders the Sharks will face the Blue Bulls in Durban.
Head Coach Allister Coetzee was very happy with his team’s performance, especially the physicality that was shown at the breakdown and scrum-time.
“We were very clinical in the first 60 or 70-odd minutes. It was a very workmanlike performance, much like the Sharks last night,” said Coetzee.
“The important thing was that we dominated the physical side of things, the collisions. The scrummaging was good, our defence was also good and we took our opportunities on attack well when they presented themselves.
“On the whole, however, and more importantly, I thought we performed well as a team,” added Coetzee.
Report written by Jarred ManasseTweet