14-Man WP conquer Loftus
Western Province held on for a 29-18 Currie Cup win over the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday despite playing with 14 men for over 45 minutes.
The result sees WP move to the top of the Currie Cup standings while the Bulls are in danger of missing the semi-finals as they languish in fifth place.
Province led 20-6 at half time and managed to tackle their way to victory in the second half after flank Michael Rhodes was sent for stamping shortly before the interval.
The defending champions played the game in accordance with their usual formula. They started like a house on fire, gained a lead through the boot of Kurt Coleman and a well taken try by the flying Gio Aplon.
WP then settled into their defensive pattern and fed off the hosts' mistakes. A huge moment occurred just after the half hour mark when Rhodes was given a straight red card for stamping on the Bulls captain.
If anything the incident made the visitors a tighter unit and just before the break they pounced on a Bulls mistake. A turnover in mid-field went wide quickly and after a kick and chase, Damian de Allende completed an opportunistic try that took province into the break leading 20-6.
The Cape side had already thrown away a healthy lead against the Bulls earlier this season and playing at Loftus with 14 men meant that the game was far from over at the interval.
The Bulls started the second half like men possessed. The big forwards got their hands on the ball and made metres with every run. The movement ended with the number eight, Ross, crashing over. Handré Pollard kicked the conversion and the score was 20 -13 just a few minutes into the second half.
The resurgence of the Bulls looked to be on, but unfortunately for the hosts that would be as close as they would come.
WP played for the full 80 minutes for the first time this season. The red card seemed to pull the 14-man visitors even closer in a performance oozing pride and passion.
Both teams tried their hearts out in a very-fast paced encounter, but even though the hosts have a man advantage for the majority of the match, the dedicated WP defence, accurate goal kicking, and predictable attacking patterns from the Bulls meant that the men from the Cape recorded a valuable away win.
The victory takes the defending champions to the top of the Currie Cup log, while the Bulls will need a string of good performances to challenge for a semi-final spot.
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Ross, Bullbring,
Yellow card: Engelbrecht (Foul play)
For Western Province:
Tries: Aplon, De Allende
Cons: Coleman 2
Pens: Coleman 3, Van Aswegen 2
Red card: Rhodes (Foul play)
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross (c), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 William Small-Smith, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 De Kock Steenkamp (c), 4 Taz Fuzani, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Michael van der Spuy.
Referee: Marius Jonker