The men from Kimberley deserve credit for never giving up, despite the odds being against them in facing a Springbok-laden Province.
CAPE TOWN – It wasn’t always pretty, but Western Province got the job done and dispatched Griquas 34-17 at Newlands on Saturday to move up to second spot on the Currie Cup log.
Province bagged the bonus point by scoring five tries to two in a workmanlike performance which wasn’t quite reflected on the scoreboard.
Province are now second on the standings with 31 points, four adrift of the log-leading Bulls.
The unheralded Griquas outfit never took a step backwards on a hot Newlands afternoon in the most unusual environment of Boxing Day rugby, when South African rugby players would normally be flexing their muscles on a beach.
The men from Kimberley deserve credit for never giving up, despite the odds being against them in facing a Springbok-laden Province. Speaking of that, the hosts lost captain Siya Kolisi before kickoff due to Covid-19 protocols, which saw Jaco Coetzee start at No 6 and Ernst van Rhyn coming on to the bench.
The conditions and overall context may have been a contributing factor to the stop-start nature of the game.
There were too many knock-ons and wrong options taken by men who are professional rugby players, but you almost felt sorry for them having to get stuck into scrums and line-outs when they should be spending time with their families – but that is the Covid-19 world we all live in these days.
The usual clash of jerseys in this fixture was again to the fore, with both teams wearing their home ‘Streeptruie’ jerseys, which didn’t make referee AJ Jacobs’ task any easier at the breakdowns in particular.
Griquas caused Province a few problems with their rush defence, but captain Steven Kitshoff and his forwards got their momentum going early with a powerful line-out drive that resulted in hooker Bongi Mbonambi rumbling over in the eighth minute.
When flyhalf Tim Swiel added a penalty to make it 10-0 after 16 minutes, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the visitors. But scrumhalf Zak Burger kept the WP defence guessing all day, while the forwards ran hard at close quarters.
WP’s Bok front row of Kitshoff, Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe put in a few massive shoves to stamp their authority, and it wasn’t long before the home side added a second try – which should never have stood, though.
A clear forward pass from Rikus Pretorius to centre partner Dan du Plessis was ignored by TMO Joey Klaaste-Salmans, who told referee Jacobs that there was “no compelling evidence” that the try should not stand.
Then, almost as if to make up for that mistake, Jacobs and Klaaste-Salmans combined again to allow Eduan Keyter’s five-pointer after Burger’s pass to centre Berton Klaasen also appeared to go forward.
Tinus de Beer slotted a penalty soon after halftime to make it 17-10, and Griquas seemed to have gained the upper hand. But Province killed off their challenge quickly with two tries in four minutes by Mbonambi and Coetzee that stretched the lead to 29-10 after 50 minutes.
The big advantage saw WP coach John Dobson give his replacements some valuable game time before the play-offs, and reserve hooker Chad Solomon got on to the scoreboard in his 50th appearance for a satisfying finish.
Griquas got a late reward for their attacking endeavour, with replacement forward Siba Qoma forcing his way over in the final play of the game.
WP 34 – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi (2), Dan du Plessis, Jaco Coetzee, Chad Solomon. Conversions: Tim Swiel (3). Penalty: Swiel (1).
Griquas 17 – Tries: Eduan Keyter, Siba Qoma. Conversions: Tinus du Beer (1), Andre Swarts (1). Penalty: De Beer (1).