Griquas push WP all the way
Western Province breathed a sigh of relief after claiming a hard-fought 19-13 win over Griquas in Friday's Currie Cup clash at Newlands.
The win means the Currie Cup leaders maintain their unbeaten record this season but the result hung in the balance right up to the final whistle as Griquas pressed hard in the dying minutes of a tough battle in very wet conditions.
The sides scored a try each but the game should never have been this close. WP conspired to make life very difficult for themselves with some poor decision making and a few sloppy errors.
Western Province would have wondered how it was possible that they were trailing 10-6 at the interval despite dominating both territory and possession.
The Griquas had made the most of their chances and a bizarre TMO call to score the only try of the opening half and hold onto the lead until the break.
WP were forced to make pre-match changes to their match-day squad after flank Rynhardt Elstadt picked up a shoulder injury at Thursday's training session at Newlands.
WP under-21 skipper Rayn Smid was promoted from the substitutes' bench into the run-on XV.
Despite the soggy underfoot conditions, WP ran the ball at every opportunity in the opening 20 minutes, but were thwarted short of the Griquas tryline.
Griquas fly-half Francois Brummer and his opposite number Kurt Coleman traded early penalties but WP led 6-3 at the end of the first quarter as the home pivot landed his second penalty.
WP turned down a number of kickable goals in favour of going for tries but the slippery conditions and a few errors scuppered their plans.
In fact, it would be Griquas who would cross the whitewash first as Nico Scheepers collected Gouws Prinsloo's neat grubber ahead to sneak home. Scheepers also added the extras from the kicking tee.
The home side were dealt a further blow when Gerhard van den Heever was on the wrong end of a very strange yellow card after TMO Shaun Veldsman insisted that the wing had punched a Griquas tackler, while carrying the ball. Van den Heever was totally dumbstruck by the call, and it's easy to understand why.
WP nevertheless dominated the rest of the half but were unable to unlock the tenacious Griquas defence and headed to the changing rooms four points down.
Coleman cut the deficit to a single point soon after the restart with his third penalty before Province finally made it to the end zone when Nic Groom slipped through to score under the posts following a patient build-up by the forwards.
Coleman added the conversion to put WP 16-10 up, a score which remained unchanged until the hour mark. The heavens opened at Newlands, ensuring a tight finish that would be contested by the forwards.
Griquas made sure the game would go down to the wire though, as Gouws Prinsloo landed a long-range penalty to cut the gap to just three points and the visitors' well-organised defence kept the hooped jerseys at bay.
WP responded with series of attacks in the Griquas' 22-metre area.
With 12 minutes to go, Griquas' cover defence twice pushed WP out at the corner flags and held on to keep themselves in the game.
WP's powerful scrum earned them a penalty under the sticks in the 75th minute and Demetri Catrakilis landed his first points of the Currie Cup season to put the home side six points clear.
For Western Province:
Pens: Coleman 3, Catrakilis
Yellow card: van den Heever
Pens: Brummer, Prinsloo
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 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 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 Rayn Smid, 20 Josh Katzen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Burger Schoeman, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Ryno Barnes (c), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Patrick O'Brien, 19 RJ Liebenberg, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Richard Lawson.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe