Western Province 34
It wasn’t pretty at the start, but Western Province did enough to avoid early Currie Cup troubles with a 34-19 win over the Pumas at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
Even if Province had lost, it might have been a little too early to start panicking, but the win over the men from Nelspruit was important for Province – not only because they suffered a defeat to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, but also because confidence and momentum will be needed as WP now prepare to play Griquas away on Wednesday, before hosting the Blue Bulls on Saturday.
WP completely dominated possession in the opening 30 minutes, but their struggle to hold onto the ball saw them lose possession during promising attacking movements a number of times, while they didn’t have much to show for all their visits to the Pumas’ 22-metre area either (other than two unconverted tries). They also conceded more penalties and turnovers than the visitors, while their handling errors weren’t something that coach John Dobson could have been particularly happy with either.
The Pumas, who were kept to a mostly defensive role in the first half, made use of their sparse first-half opportunities in the period leading up to the break, and they got the points to prove it when they scored two quick tries through Stephan Greeff and fullback Devon Williams to go into the break with a 10-12 lead.
And although the Pumas enjoyed a bit more of the ball in the second half, Province certainly stepped up and added four more tries (including a penalty try) to take their try tally to six to the Pumas’ three. Another positive was the fact that the hosts scored a couple of great tries from the set-pieces, but the lineouts were a bit of a mess from both sides, while both teams can be proud of what they put on show in terms of the driving maul.
But apart from Province’s improved performance in the second 40, there were also a few superb individual performances that added some smiles to an empty Newlands stadium.
Province outside centre EW Viljoen had a great outing as he had two try-assists and wreaked general havoc in the in the wide channels. He also produced a top running angle and a brilliant offload to wing Seabelo Senatla, who scored their opening try, and his quick hands and perfectly-timed pass also put Dillyn Leyds, who didn’t see much ball in WP’s second Currie Cup outing, away for a try in the second half.
Wing Seabelo Senatla was devastating again whenever he got the ball but, just like many of his team mates, his handling errors also cut short a number of his exciting productions.
Lock JD Schickerling was also a workhorse at Newlands, and he was rewarded for his efforts with the Man of the Match award.
Western Province: Tries: Seabelo Senatla, SP Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Dillyn Leyds, Penalty try, Nizaam Carr Conversion: Marais Yellow card: Scarra Ntubeni
Pumas: Tries: Stephan Greeff, Devon Williams, Jerome Pretorius Conversions: Kobus Marais (2) Yellow card: Frank Herne