CAPE TOWN – While neither the Blue Bulls nor Western Province will flag Saturday's outings as 'performance goals' going forward, Province got the job done at Newlands and secured a 20-5 win in their Currie Cup opener.
There's been a lot of talk about the importance of performing in every single Currie Cup game given the single-round format of the competition. Every game is key – especially if you want to host a home final – and there's very little room for error or unflattering results.
Last season, Province went through the regular season unbeaten, and as scrappy as the game may have been, the Cape side have taken the first step in copying their 2018 road to the final.
Building up to the match, WP coach John Dobson spoke about how important it was that they dominate the scrum and that their pack stand up against their foes. The lineout – and Bok lock Lood dr Jager – was also flagged by hooker Scarra Ntubeni. And the scrum certainly went Province's way.
The Bulls hit first when Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier motored down touch early on after former Blitzbok Tim Agaba sent the ball his way (0-5). That would be their only points in the game, however.
WP winger Seabelo Senatla looked to respond for the hosts early in second quarter, but his foot was in touch before he made it into the in-goal area.
Match report: DHL WP laid the foundation for their three-try 20-5 Currie Cup win against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands on a solid scrum and committed defence - https://t.co/t6GTfqLbeT #WPvBUL #wpjoulekkerding— WP RUGBY (@WP_RUGBY) July 13, 2019
Outside centre Ruhan Nel got those five points for the 2018 finalists when he reached over the tryline to level the scores.
Nel was in top form as his defence interfered with a couple of the Bulls' plans, while his carries were massive and his physicality in contact just as good.
For the Bulls, wing Rosko Specman looked a threat almost every time he got the ball, though with pace like that, having his presence in the line-up alone should be considered a threat.
While it wasn't a perfect display by either side, WP would surely have lamented the points they left out there in the opening half, especially with the scores locked at 5-all at the break.
The Bulls, though, were far from perfect, and their penalties-conceded stats will surely require a few stern words. Or at least it should.
In the second half, the hosts got another try when loose forward Juarno Augustus dotted down. And after a quiet spell, replacement back Craig Barry ran in their third try after a cross-kick by replacement flyhalf Josh Stander, which ended the game on 20-5.
Province next take on the Sharks – who were thrashed 37-13 by Griquas in their own backyard – in Durban on Saturday at 2pm.
WP 20 (5): Tries: Ruhan Nel, Juarno Augustus, Craig Barry. Conversion: SP Marais. Penalty: Marais
Blue Bulls 5 (5): Try: Embrose Papier