Western Province weathered a spirited second-half surge from the Blue Bulls to win 45-34 at Newlands on Saturday.
Province streaked into a 42-13 halftime lead against their northern rivals who appeared to failed to muster any resistance at the point of contact in the first 40. But the roles reverse in the second half, and WP added just three points as the visitors hogged the scoreboard operator’s time with a haul of 21 points.
For Province, Nizaam Carr, Damian Willemse, SP Marais, Scarra Ntubeni and Seabelo Senatla (2) crossed for tries while Piet Van Zyl, Johan Grobbelaar and a Kefentse Mahlo (2) dotted down for the Bulls.
Tony Jantjies gave the Blue Bulls an early 3-0 lead with a well-struck penalty. Carr then opened the home side’s account with a clinical finish. SP Marais collected a Blue Bulls kick and set off on a counter-attack before putting Seabelo Senatla into space who drew the last defender well before timing the pass well on his inside for Carr to collect and stretch to dot down.
Jantjies added his second penalty to cut the deficit to a single point.
Soon after, Willemse scored a magical individual try by stepping his way past an assortment of opposition defenders and leaving them sprawling on the turf in what could go down as the try of the season. Marais added the extras as the home side took a 14-6 lead after 12 minutes.
Western Province’s next try came courtesy of strong play by their forward pack, showing they have the ability to combine silky skills and brute force. A series of powerful carries allowed the home side to get close to the line. Vermaak recycled the ball from the ruck to Marais who assumed a low body position to bash over.
Shortly afterwards, the home side had their fourth and this time it was courtesy of a dazzling backline move. Willemse and Huw Jones were involved in the build up that saw Senatla exploiting the overlap out on the right wing to dot down. Marais converted as the home side extended the lead to 28-6.
Then on the half-hour mark, Ntubeni capped his 50th appearance for the Cape side with a try. It came from a five-metre attacking lineout which Ntubeni threw to the back before his side set up the driving maul. The momentum of the maul could not be stopped on its way over the line as Ntubeni emerged with the ball from the melee.
The Bulls hit back two minutes later. Jamba Ulengo broke a tackle and got his hands free to offload for Dries Swanepoel who kicked over the top for Van Zyl to collect and race through to dot down. Jantjies converted.
But the home side had the last laugh when Senatla grabbed his brace on the stroke of half-time. However, EW Viljoen was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle after the hooter as the home side took a 42-13 lead in to the interval, albeit a man down.
Soon after the resumption of the second-half, the Blue Bulls capitalised on their numerical advantage with Mahlo dotting down. Jantjies added the extras to make it 42-20.
Just when it looked as if Senatla might grab his hat-trick, the Blue Bulls showed great scramble defence and an effective counter-ruck to turn over and send Mahlo from coast to coast as he went all the way and grabbed his brace.
Substitute hooker Johan Grobbelaar bashed over from close range for the Blue Bulls’ fourth try after good work in the build up from Jamba Ulengo.
For Western Province:
Tries: Carr, Willemse, Marais, Senatla 2, Ntubeni
Cons: Marais 6
Yellow Cards: Viljoen, Kumbirai
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Van Zyl, Mahlo 2, Grobbelaar
Cons: Jantjies 4
Pens: Jantjies 2
Western Province: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 John Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Eddie Zandberg, 19 Stephan de Wit, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dan Kriel.
Blue Bulls: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Kefentse Mahlo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Johannes Prinsloo (captain), 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Abongile Nonkontwana, 19 Shaun Adendorff, 20 Andre Warner, 21 JT Jackson, 22 Duncan Matthews.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Sindile Ngcese, Joey Swarts