Western Province were staring defeat in the face and in danger of being knocked out of the Currie Cup, but hit back with two tries in three minutes to hold off Griquas 52-31 in Kimberley on Friday night.
And equally importantly, John Dobson’s team secured the four-try bonus point as well that means they still have their destiny in their own hands to qualify for the semi-finals.
Province were met with an enormous physical onslaught by the Griquas forwards, who ran with real purpose in the first half and dominated the collisions. WP were falling off in defence and at one stage had made over 60 tackles compared to just 15 by the home side.
Griquas drew in the defence up the middle, and were able to outflank WP on the left in the 11th minute which saw loose forward Wendal Wehr charge towards Cheslin Kolbe. The WP fullback brought his man down, but wing JW Jonker picked up and dotted down.
But Province’s alignment improved as the match wore on, and they scrambled well to keep Griquas at bay. One turnover in the 25th minute saw WP counter-attack from inside their 22, and the ball was quickly shifted to Leolin Zas, who found Huw Jones with a super offload, with Juan de Jongh running in an easy try.
But WP gifted Griquas two five-pointers, the first of which came when Kolbe failed to claim the high ball and Poerie van Rooyen pounced with a quick tap penalty, and wriggled his way over the line.
Both teams exchanged further tries before halftime that saw Griquas lead 21-17, with Bongi Mbonambi barging over off a lineout, while André Swarts capitalised on a knock-on at the kickoff by Carr to put Griquas back in the lead.
But the turning point of the match came after halftime when a massive WP scrum saw the Griquas loosies pinned in, which granted Kolbe extra space to spin the ball wide to Man-of-the-Match Jones, who beat the last defender to put WP ahead at 25-24.
The try of the match, though, undoubtedly came from the resultant kickoff as replacement WP prop JP Smith broke the line from his own 22, and the ball was kept alive through wonderful hands by Robert du Preez, with Kobus van Dyk putting Werner Kok over in the right-hand corner for the bonus-point try.
By that stage Province’s pack were right on top, with Springbok hooker Mbonambi prominent, and they milked a few vital scrum penalties that Du Preez knocked over, and they ended off in style as Carr and Zas dotted down in the last 10 minutes.
Du Preez also had a successful night with the boot in perfect conditions, slotting five conversions and four penalties for a 22-point haul.
Now WP, who moved above Griquas into fourth place on the log with 23 points, need another five in their final league game against Boland at Newlands next Friday, and on the evidence of this performance, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Griquas – Tries: JW Jonker, Poerie van Rooyen, André Swarts, Jonathan Adendorff. Conversions: Clinton Swart (2), André Swarts (2). Penalty: André Swarts (1).
Western Province – Tries: Juan de Jongh, Bongi Mbonambi, Huw Jones, Werner Kok, Nizaam Carr, Leolin Zas. Conversions: Robert du Preez (5). Penalties: Du Preez (4).