CAPE TOWN – If you look at the crowd attendances, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Currie Cup rugby might be, well, dead.
Or not the rugby itself, but at least the interest in it.
But if you saw Damian Willemse humiliate the Blue Bulls’ defence just before scoring his try at Newlands on Saturday evening, you’d have to say that the young flyhalf certainly brought some life to the scanty Newlands crowd.
And if it was at all missing or a little on the low side, he sure pumped up the interest in the North-South derby, in which Province prevailed 45-34.
Willemse’s try was just plain stunning.
The way he got the ball in the opposition 22 and escaped from the clutches of a few Bulls, stepped and swerved his way past a number of others, and added a superb dummy pass before straightening his line and pacing through to score their second try, can only be described as brilliant.
And you want to know the best part of it? It wasn’t the only stunning moment in Province’s performance.
The hosts were on fire in the first half as they scored six tries to the visitors’ one in the opening stanza. But it’s how they scored those tries that made it even better.
They scored set-piece tries, they scored tries using the width of the field, they scored tries that featured top support play, and another pleasing aspect was the fact that their defence was much, much better than what we had to witness in their defeat to Griquas on Wednesday.
And as far as their discipline goes, well, the fact that they were issued two yellow cards probably doesn’t indicate vast improvement, but there were certainly fewer unforced errors.
There were also individuals that made the win over their old foes even sweeter.
There was obviously flyhalf Willemse who, aside from creating a few exciting moments in the first 40, also showed an improved tactical display.
No 8 Nizaam Carr added a few nice touches that he mixed up with hard work and attractive runs, while wing Seabelo Senatla was again threatening whenever he got the ball.
Flank Kobus van Dyk should also be lauded for his grind, and hooker Scarra Ntubeni can be satisfied with his first start of the season.
Fullback SP Marais also had a good outing, with a clean kicking record of seven out of seven.
For the Bulls, wing Kefentse Mahlo showed his pace to run in a brace of tries.
The Bulls enjoyed more possession in the second half, and they also looked good with ball in hand, which resulted in three tries after the break.
The visitors made Province do a lot of defending in the second 40, but it should also be said that the match, especially the second half, contained a number of dubious refereeing calls that didn’t always favour the hosts.
Province next host the Golden Lions at Newlands on August 18.
Western Province 45 – Tries: Nizaam Carr, Damian Willemse, SP Marais, Seabelo Senatla (2), Scarra Ntubeni. Conversions: Marais (6). Penalty: Marais (1).
Blue Bulls 34 – Tries: Piet van Zyl, Kefentse Mahlo (2), Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (3), Joshua Stander (1). Penalties: Jantjies (2).