SP Marais’s 20-point haul ensured Western Province remained the only unbeaten team in the Currie Cup after the home team blitzed the Sharks 50-28 at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
Relishing a 2pm kickoff under bright, sunny skies, Province turned on the magic, with left-wing Marais shining the brightest. Even though the previously unbeaten Sharks shocked the home team through a first-minute try through inside centre Marius Louw, Province never trailed again for the remainder of the match.
John Dobson’s team took just two minutes to hit back through No 8 Jaco Coetzee - a late replacement for Juarno Augustus, who did not recover in time from his foot injury in time for kickoff.
Coetzee’s try ignited a period of Province dominance during which the home side scored 31 unanswered points in just 25 minutes. The interplay between the Province backs and forwards was exhilarating at this stage, with especially Marais and Dillon Lleyds exploiting the space through sensational counter-attacks.
Lleyds dotted down in that period, along with centre Ruhan Nel and fellow wing Sergeal Petersen. The latter was particularly explosive for his try, with the former Cheetahs flyer showing his fellow former Grey High School learner Curwin Bosch a clean pair of heels.
The Sharks were in danger of capitulation at that point, but Robert du Preez’s team had not won five games on the trot prior to their trip to Cape Town for no reason. They clawed their way back into the contest steadily through tries by flank Tyler Paul and lock Gideon Koegelenberg just after the halftime hooter.
And when replacement wing Aphelele Fassi went over in the right-hand corner shortly after the resumption, the visitors were firmly back in the game with only three points separating the teams at that stage.
Province, though, always had an extra gear and it was only fitting it was that man Marais that put daylight between the team again when he burst over from close to the Sharks tryline. The Sharks had butchered three opportunities on the WP tryline through poor close-quarter handling errors and the home side exploited these mistakes with replacement wing JJ Engelbrecht and hooker Chad Solomon closing out the game with two five-pointers.
Western Province 50: Tries: Coetzee, Nel, Leyds, Petersen, Marais, Engelbrecht, Solomon. Conversions: Marais (6). Penalty: Marais.
Sharks 28: Tries: Louw, Van Rhyn, Koegelenberg, Fassi. Conversions: R du Preez (4).