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Rugby | Absa Currie Cup

Willem de Waal © Gallo Images

WP’s challenge takes shape



Western Province powered to an easy 32-0 win over the Lions that enabled their Absa Currie Cup campaign to start taking shape at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.

The hosts were on top in all departments of the match, and had the game comfortably sewn up when they led 19-0 at half-time. However, Anton van Zyl’s men may be kicking themselves for not being able to nail down the fourth try that would have secured a valuable bonus point.

They did come close, and were pressing for their fourth try on the Lions line when the end came. Still, the four points for the win was enough for WP to go top of the log with one match to go in the second weekend of the 2010 competition, and they should be happy with that as the teams they have beaten, the Lions and Cheetahs, rank among the tournament’s tougher opponents.

The Lions have certainly improved from earlier in the season, particularly on defence. That should be seen as a saving grace for John Mitchell’s team, as it was only their stinginess on defence, particularly in their determination to keep Province out when penned in their own 22, that kept WP from running up a score beyond the 50 mark.

There was nothing unexpected about this impressive WP performance. As predicted beforehand, Anton van Zyl’s men relied on the ingredients that saw the Stormers to such an impressive finish in the Super 14 season, namely excellent defence, pinpoint accuracy and efficiency at the basics, a strong set-piece and domination of the collisions.

An example of the latter came through the first WP try, where Anton van Zyl won an attacking lineout at the front, Province recycled, took it through two or three phases, Dewaldt Duvenage sniped the openside and popped it to Pieter Louw who contemptuously bumped off the defender on route to the score.

That was the only try of the half, but WP could easily have scored more were it not for the Lions’ tenacity inside their own 22, which it seemed was where Province camped most of the first period once the Lions’ attempts at trying to probe for openings with a wide game were frustrated.

The Lions players had enough ball in the first half, but probably just grew tired of being repeatedly gang tackled behind the gainline, with Duane Vermeulen and Rynhardt Elstadt particularly impressive in this regard.

Another feature of the Province game that was good was the discipline, and by the time the game reached the hour mark, they had conceded just four penalties. Their composure under pressure, when it was applied, was excellent, and augurs well for the sterner tests that lie ahead for this young team.

It wasn’t the same story for the Lions though, and the pressure applied by WP had the desired result as the visitors conceded penalties when there was no way through their defensive wall. Willem de Waal, as he invariably is, was on target from all angles and distances, and he kicked four penalties to propel his team into a comfortable half-time lead.

There was another shortly after the break, and then came the coup de grace from Province as they built up impressively before the Lions eventually just ran out of defenders and Conrad Jantjes was presented with the space that he needed to go over in the right corner for WP’s second try.

It was just reward for Jantjes, as he followed up his impressive return to rugby after a long lay-off in Bloemfontein with another solid display. His tactical kicking played a big role in keeping the Lions on the back foot in the first half, and he was also his usual assured self under the high ball barrage when it came.

The second try came in the 52nd minute, which left WP with 28 minutes to score two more tries for the bonus point. It seemed they might have surrendered their chance of doing that when they lost their intensity for the next 20 minutes, a period when the Lions enjoyed a significant territorial advantage and in which the WP defence was put through another searching test that they passed with flying colours.

But as the 10 minute to go mark arrived, reserve flanker Pieter Myburgh scored in the corner off a five metre lineout drive. It set up an exciting last period of the game, with WP doing most of the pressing, and being denied by the millimetres that separated Fabian Juries from a try on the corner flag off the last move of the day.

Scores

Western Province 32 – Try: Pieter Louw, Conrad Jantjes and Pieter Myburgh; Conversion: Willem de Waal; Penalties: Willem de Waal 5.
Lions - 0

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