Province see off Cheetahs
A late Deon Fourie try secured Western Province a 15-14 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in Cape Town on Saturday.
Just over 8,000 spectators were at Newlands, where WP left their match-winning effort until five minutes from end, after trailing 14-0 at a stage.
Western Province showed a marked improvement at the early set-pieces and kept it that way as the Currie Cup match wound its course.
With that advantage, they paved the way for a territorial advantage in the first-half and their overall play suggested that the Cheetahs' defence would be hard-pressed to keep their defence intact.
Cheetahs fly-half Elgar Watts provided the first-half highlight with an electrifying run from 30 metres out to score next to the posts after sidestepping three WP defenders in the sixth minute. Riaan Smit landed the conversion.
There was a concerted fightback by WP and when they seemed to be on the the verge of a breakthrough, Smit intercepted a pass on his own 22 metre line and ran in for the visitors' second converted try in the seventeenth minute to make it 0-14.
The slippery underfoot conditions as a result of earlier rains in the day, put paid to a few darting runs by WP wing Cheslin Kolbe, who proved a threat whenever he was in possession.
WP opened the account with a 20th minute penalty from fly-half Gary van Aswegen, and four minutes later flanker Michael Rhodes broke away from a line-out to run in for the home side's first try. Van Aswegen converted to reduce the deficit to four points.
The hosts looked full of running in the passage of play ahead of the break but they were unable to convert numerous promising opportunities. Van Aswegen also did not help his side's cause with a few grubber kicks which seemed hopelessly inopportune at the time.
It was much the same after the break when the hosts looked full of running, with expansive moves that tested the Cheetahs defence out wide for most of early second-half play.
Just as play neared the hour mark, Newlands had a downpour which made the surface even more slippery.
One aspect of WP's play which seemed out of kilter was their tactical kicking, which rarely troubled the Cheetahs' rearguard. Most kicks deep into Cheetahs' territory were easily fielded, and often returned WP with interest.
After some 30 minutes of pinning the Cheetahs down in their own half in second-half play, WP were forced to go on the defence as they smothered a counter-attack down the centre of the field which took play to 20 from their try-line.
Province managed well enough on defence and staged a counter-attack of their own, to force a line-out ten metres out from the Cheetahs line.
From the resultant set-piece, WP set up a driving maul before captain Fourie crashed over for what was the match-winning try, which went unconverted five minutes from the end.
For Western Province:
Tries: Rhodes, Fourie
Con: Van Aswegen
Pen: Van Aswegen
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Watts, Smit
Cons: Smit, Watts
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Pat Howard, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Ryan Nell.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo (c), 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Oupa Mohoje, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Joubert Engelbrecht, 22 Piet Lindeque.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan