Western Province completed a dream season in the inaugural SuperSport Rugby Challenge by beating a gutsy Griquas 28-19 on Sunday to become the first winners of the tournament.
The victory, their 11th in a row, delivered not only a handy R500 000 in prize money and a brand new cup to the Newlands trophy cabinet, but also ensured that they remained unbeaten in the tournament, which saw 67 matches being played.
The final, played in front of a capacity crowd at Florida Park in Ravensmead, concluded what turned out to be a memorable first addition to the South African rugby landscape.
As the previous 66 matches, the final delivered another spectacle to an appreciative crowd, this time with the home side hitting the heavy turf of this community venue running.
They scored four tries in the opening half-hour as the visitors struggled to adapt to the heavy underfoot conditions.
Wing Bjorn Basson bagged the first for the home side after 15 minutes, and a golden spell of three converted tries in the next 20 all but secured the win for the home side.
Fellow WP wing Marcello Sampson scored a brace in that time, with lock Jurie van Vuuren also getting in on the action with a well-taken try under the sticks, after some good interplay by his fellow forwards, with a superb offload by tighthead Michael Kumbirai.
At 28-0 at the break, the home side had the win all but in the bag.
Griquas never stopped playing though, and in the second half showed why they made it all the way to the final.
A yellow card after 53 minutes to WP lock JD Schickerling gave the visitors the edge they were looking for and after a number of attacks on the tryline, it was Griquas prop Nico Oosthuizen who found the gap to score their opening try.
A second try, by outside centre Koch Marx, was another reward for the Kimberley side and gave them more momentum into the last quarter of the match.
The visitors kept Province honest and made a game of it, with a late try to Tertius Kruger making it a nine-point deficit.
That proved decisive though, as the WP defence held out to secure the win.
Western Province 28 – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Marcello Sampson (2), Jurie van Vuuren, Conversions: Kurt Coleman (4).
Griquas – Tries: Nico Oosthuizen, Koch Marx, Tertius Kruger. Conversions: André Swarts (2).