It wasn’t pretty but WP secure much-needed bonus-point win over visiting Pumas
CAPE TOWN - Western Province bagged a bonus-point win and their first Currie Cup victory of the season at Newlands on Friday night, defeating the Pumas 28-14.
Province went into the game with a major disruption as Springbok tighthead prop Frans Malherbe was ruled out before kick-off due to illness, with the very green Lee Marvin Mazibuko taking his place in the starting line-up.
Head coach John Dobson had to call on some more young blood when flyhalf Tim Swiel went off in the fourth minute with a head (facial) injury, and Kade Wolhuter came on to replace him at 10, with Damian Willemse remaining at fullback.
Mazibuko had a good debut, getting involved everywhere, winning an early scrum penalty and securing a turnover early on. The fact that he played a full game as WP didn’t have a tighthead on the bench earned him extra points.
He was also on the receiving end of a knock to the head when Le Roux Roets connected his head with his shoulder. After a lengthy review, the Pumas lock was yellow carded with nine minutes remaining in the first half, with Wolhuter slotting the penalty goal to bring WP onto the scoreboard.
For the Pumas, Devon Williams, who was named on the bench, got involved early on as an injury replacement.
After losing against the Bulls and the Lions, this was a must-win for WP as they hunt a home semi-final.
Western Province looked set to open the scoring after Willemse did well to secure the high ball in their 10, which gave them a chance to capitalise on the open space behind the Pumas’ defence, but a poor pass by hooker Scarra Ntubeni saw possession change hands and the visitors eventually getting the first try through outside centre Erich Cronje (0-5).
However, it was a try the referee Paul Mente should have had another look at as it seemed as though Cronje had placed the ball short of the try line first before pushing it over for the placement.
The Pumas threatened to extend their lead after that, but a kick-ahead and chase resulted in a knock-on centimetres from the try line by Jimmy Stonehouse’s team.
Just before half time, Province used the power of their driving maul to get ahead with Ntubeni crashing over in the corner (8-5). Wolhuter missed the conversion, which was a tough one from the touchline.
Province got off to a strong start in the second half of the stop-start game and scored a superb try through wing Angelo Davids, which came after left wing Tristan Leyds – who had a good game overall - sent a top long pass to Davids out wide, who beat a good few defenders to dot down (13-5). Wolhuter missed his target with the conversion.
The floodgates looked set to open when Ntubeni got his brace to take the score to 18-5, but Wolhuter failed to stretch the lead when he missed another conversion.
Shortly afterwards, Williams added three points for the Nelspruit team, and WP followed with three of their own when Wolhuter returned the favour (21-8).
Leyds, who did a good job in his first Currie Cup start, was stretchered off with 13 minutes to go.
Province’s bonus-point chase was made a bit tougher when replacement scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies was yellow carded for cynical play in their 22 with the clock ticking away. Just before the hooter went, Williams added his third penalty kick (21-14), but Province got the bonus point well beyond the 80th minute when Springbok loosehead Steven Kitshoff went over, with Wolhuter adding the conversion to end the game (21-14).
Province have a bye in Round Four, before hosting Griquas at Newlands on December 26.
Tries: Scarra Ntubeni (2), Angelo Davids, Steven Kitshoff Conversion: Kade Wolhuter Penalties: Wolhuter (2)
Yellow card: Herschel Jantjies
Try: Erich Cronje Penalties: Devon Williams (3)
Yellow card: Le Roux Roets