Johannesburg - Western Province claimed their first Vodacom Cup title when they snatched a 20-18 victory (half-time 10-13) over Griquas in the final, at GWK Park, on Friday.
Griquas, dominated the possession and territory stakes throughout the match, led 18-13 with time up on the stadium clock. But, waves of late Western Province assaults eventually saw their defences cave as flank Rohan Kitshoff went over for the try which levelled the score at 18-18.
Province Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis calmly slotted the conversion to break Griquas hearts on the stroke of fulltime.
For Western Province it was their first win in 15 years of the competition in their first-ever final, while Griquas were left ruing the fact that they missed out on their fifth title.
Western Province never held the lead in the match until after the final whistle but were rewarded for their persistence.
Griquas got off to a flyer and, after forcing Western Province into some early handling errors, opened the scoring as early as the second minute, when their powerfully-built number eight Leon Karemaker burst through a lineout to score midway out. Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff had no trouble with the conversion.
Boshoff increased the lead to 10-0 with a penalty 14 minutes later.
The visitors hit straight back in the 19th minute as their backline employed slick hands to see right wing Danie Poolman over the tryline.
Catrakilis duly slotted the conversion.
Both sides played attacking rugby and probed each other's defences. The game threatened to open up at times in the first half but both teams were unable to finish off.
The flyhalves kicked a penalty each shortly before the before the break to see Griquas leading 13-10 at the changeover.
Catrakilis levelled matters shortly after the restart with a well-taken penalty.
The hosts moved back into the lead in the 48th minute when prop Janro van Niekerk crashed over after sustained pressure on the Western Province line.
Missed penalty attempts by Boshoff (3) and replacement fullback Rudi Vogt (2) cost Griquas dearly on the night, as Kitshoff went on to snatch a victory for Western Province which had looked unlikely for most of the evening.
Griquas: Tries: Leon Karemaker, Janro van Niekerk; Conversions:
Marnitz Boshoff; Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (2).
Western Province: Tries: Danie Poolman, Rohan Kitshoff; Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2); Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (2). - Sapa