By Herman R Gibbs, Cape Dreams Editor
DHL Western Province consolidated their position at the top of the Currie Cup log with a deserving 36-12 win over a game Griquas side in their clash at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
The match ended on a frantic note as either side scored a try, by which time the match had long been settled as a contest, after WP lead 24-0 at the lead.
Griquas yet again had to play part of the match with 14 players and that has been their lot in several games this season.
WP showed their attacking intentions from the start when the they ran in a try after only two minutes play from turn-over possession but referee Lesego ‘Pro’ Legoete spotted an infringement earlier on and the score was disallowed.
Griquas also showed the same intent but they ran into a brick wall as the WP defence weighed in with reliable man-on-man tackling. This prompted Griquas to kick upfield instead whenever they needed to get out of their own half.
With ample supply of possession from first-phase play, WP’s new-found attacking prowess played havoc with Griquas’ defensive lines and after only 25 minutes play, the Newlands-based outfit ran in three tries.
Justin Geduld, the WP rightwing, making his debut on a starting XV, scored a sixth minute try after backline movement, sprung just outside the Griquas 22-metre area. Fullback Cheslin Kolbe who provided the scoring pass drew two defenders before sending Geduld clear.
WP kicked two close-in penalties to touch in an effort to score tries instead, and the ploy paid dividends when they notched a second try after a driving maul from 10 metres out. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, another player to make his debut in the run-on XV, scored the try in the 16th minute. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis was on target again with the conversion attempt (14-0).
In the 17th minute the visiting Griquas suffered a double setback when their tighthead prop Nicolaas van Dyk was yellow-carded and WP goaled the resultant penalty for a 17-0 lead after 20 minutes play.
There was more woe four minutes later when WP breached the Griquas defence yet again and this time prop Brok Harris was the scorer. Catrakilis gave WP a 24-0 lead when he goaled the conversion.
Strangely, this string of setbacks brought the best out of Griquas and for a while when they were reduced to 14 players they managed to pin WP down in their own 22-metre area. During this time they managed to cross the whitewash but the TMO Shaun Veldsman, who was called on to make a call, decided against awarding the try.
In the final five minutes play of the first half when Griquas were restored to a full team, they exerted great pressure on the WP defence but they could not make it on to the scoreboard by the time the halftime whistle sounded.
When play resumed Griquas started where they left off and this time they needed only three minutes of second-half play to open their account. From a line-out, some 15 metres out, former WP lock Hilton Lobberts now a key player for Griquas, broke powerfully around the front before his teammate Ruaan Lerm (flank) gathered the stray ball and dived over Griquas’ first try, which went unconverted (24-5).
For long passages of play in the second half, play was restricted to the area between the two 22-metre lines mainly as a result of handling errors creeping into play. WP always looked the more threatening but they seemed to lose their way out on the flanks when there were chances to round the opposition defence.
Griquas, on the other hand, needed to be far more enterprising than trying the run WP off their feet but they never gave up trying.
The second-half target for WP was very much a fourth try for the bonus point and emerged in the 58th minute when Notshe notched his second try. This time Catrakilis failed to convert (29-5).
Three minutes from the end, WP had the 10 000-strong crowd on its feet with a move from their tryline to the opposite when Kolbe touching down in the corner but again, the try was disallowed.
A minute later, Griquas cut loose from the restart and substitute Abrie Griesel scored his side’s second try and Dean Grant goaled the conversion (29-12).
Referee Legoete allowed some four minutes extra time and WP ran in a fifth try through Kolbe and replacement flyhalf Kurt Coleman added the conversion (36-12).
Hooker Scarra Ntubeni, who was playing in the run-on XV for the first after a long while, was named ‘Man-of-the-Match’ for his bustling performanceon attack and defence.
Scorers: DHL Western Province: Tries: Justin Geduld, Sikhumbuzo Notshe (2), Brok Harris, Cheslin Kolbe. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3), Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Catrakilis.
Griqaus: Tries: Ruaan Lerm, Abrie Griesel. Conversion: Dean Grant.