The Blue Bulls came up short 29-14 against WP. This match report, courtesy of MWP.
DHL Western Province gained sweet revenge against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands with a 29-14 (halftime 15-9) victory in an Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match in Cape Town on Friday evening.
The men from Pretoria will rue a string of missed opportunities that cost them the chance of closing the gap on the Golden Lions at the top of the Currie Cup log as handling errors and strong defence from the home side meant the Blue Bulls left Cape Town with their second loss of the campaign and still four points off the pace.
Province dominated the opening exchanges and within nine minutes were 12-0 up thanks to two wonderful tries from right wing Dillyn Leyds and inside centre Huw Jones. WP dominated the Blue Bulls scrum and the breakdown.
Leyds opened the scoring as early as the third minute when scrumhalf and captain Nic Groom moved the ball to the right of the field, utilising the advantage that referee Rasta Rashevenga offered.
Outside centre Johnny Kotze ran powerfully through a tackle and offloaded to Leyds who cut inside to score to the right of the poles. Flyhalf Robert du Preez converted to hand the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
Province were all over the visitors, pushing the much-vaunted Blue Bulls scrum back some metres which allowed fullback Cheslin Klobe to charge down the left wing.
Kolbe was brought up short and Groom again switched the angle of play. Jones broke through the midfield and went over untouched to give the hosts a 12-point advantage as Du Preez pulled his conversion attempt to the left of the poles.
Once the Blue Bulls gained some possession, the phases started to mount and the visitors managed to get a handle on the game.
Flyhalf Louis Fouche managed three penalties in the first half as Province mounted a strong defence in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
The second stanza resembled more of a test match environment as the Blue Bulls tried to push home their territorial advantage but it was the home side who picked up the points on offer through three penalties from Du Preez.
The Province defence was strong, often taking their opposition back in the tackle or turning over ball at the breakdown. Each time Province turned the ball over, they counter-attacked and managed to force a penalty in the Blue Bulls' half.
The visitors finally made headway with just seven minutes remaining as replacement flyhalf Tian Schoeman put the ball onto his boot, making the Province backs turn and chase but right wing Travis Ismaiel was just too quick for his opposite number, Seabelo Senatla, and managed to touch down just before the cover-defence.
Schoeman made a hash of the conversion attempt which left the Blue Bulls trailing by 10 points.
The nail was hammered into the Blue Bulls’ coffin with just three minutes left on the stadium clock as replacement scrumhalf Jano Vermaak sealed the four points with the home side’s third try of the evening.
A maul from the Province forwards allowed openside flanker Chris Cloete to break away on the blind side and feed Vermaak who side-stepped two defenders and offered the field-side photographers a snapshot dive. Du Preez rushed his conversion attempt to give his side some time to seek the bonus-point try but the Blue Bulls held firm.
The victory keeps WP in third position on the log, just a single point behind the Northern rivals in the race for a home semifinal while opening up an 11-point gap to the Sharks, who are in fourth place.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Dillyn Leyds, Huw Jones, Jano Vermaak; Conversion: Robert du Preez; Penalties: Du Preez (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Try: Travis Ishamiel; Penalties: Louis Fouche (3).