Province leave it late against Griquas
A try deep into stoppage time helped Western Province to a narrow 23-22 (half-time 13-10) win over GWK Griquas in their Vodacom Cup match at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Province had made heavy weather of their attempt to retain their unbeaten status this season as a battling defensive performance from Griquas saw the home team trailing 22-16 two minutes into injury time.
The hosts threw everything they had into one final assault and flank Wimpie van Der Walt stretched over to score despite two tacklers trying to hold onto him.
The try drew Province to within one point and flyhalf Gary van Aswegen kept his nerve to slot the touchline conversion to dash Griquas’ hopes of an upset victory.
Van Aswegen turned in a polished performance with the pivot ending with a personal haul of 13 points thanks to two conversions and three penalties.
Province only had themselves to blame for trailing as a succession of handling errors and turnovers gifted possession to the visitors while the yellow card that replacement back Paul Bosch received in the 58th minute for kneeing an opponent did not help either.
Griquas could consider themselves a touch unlucky to only pick up a bonus point for losing by less than seven points as they dominated the scrums and lineouts, with lock Jaco Nepgen to the fore, while they outscored their opponents by three tries to two.
Griquas’ effort was all the more impressive considering that they entered the match with a severely depleted squad that had been hard hit by injuries and call-ups to the Cheetah’s Super Rugby squad.
It meant that all three of their backline replacements were scrumhalves.
Province made a bright start thanks to an early penalty from Van Aswegen before a scrum well inside Province territory resulted in Van Aswegen feeding the impressive outside centre Johann Sadie.
Sadie took the ball on the Griquas’ 10-metre line before slicing through the remaining defence to score his third try of the campaign as the home side eased into a 10-0 lead after seven minutes.
But Province were hamstrung by their inability to retain the ball and Griquas fought back tremendously with flyhalf Earl Rose slotting a 23rd minute penalty before wing Richard Lawson scooted down the right-hand touchline after receiving a pass from Rose.
Lawson was faced by a group of tight forwards and the winger had no difficulty in outpacing loosehead prop JD Moller to score a converted try and level the scores.
Province edged back in to the lead thanks to Van Aswegen’s second penalty as the teams went to the break with the home side leading 13-10.
However, Griquas struck the first blow in the second half when they turned down a kickable penalty in order to kick into the corner.
Their initiative was rewarded when flank Wesley Wilkens was mauled over for a five-pointer from the resulting lineout.
Province regained the lead thanks to a Van Aswegen penalty but Griquas refused to give up and they scored their third try when former SA Schools’ star, eighthman Leon Karemaker took a quick tap penalty five metres from Province’s tryline to dive over for a converted try with 16 minutes of play remaining.
But Province finally found their composure to set up the late heroics.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Johann Sadie, Wimpie van Der Walt; Conversions: Gary van Aswegen (2); Penalties: Van Aswegen (3).
GWK Griquas – Tries: Richard Lawson, Wesley Wilkens, Leon Karemaker; Conversions: Earl Rose (2); Penalty: Rose.