DHL Western Province scored three tries either side of halftime as they demolished the Vodacom Blue Bulls 41-17 (halftime 19-6) in a scintillating Absa Currie Cup encounter at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Province ran in six tries through Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh and a brace from Seabelo Senatla while replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi nabbed one for the visitors.
Despite their second-consecutive bonus-point victory, coach Alister Coetzee will be worried about the yellow card count that his side are racking up. WP picked up three yellow cards against the EP Kings last week and found themselves with another two sin-bins with Manuel Carizza and Kobus van Wyk spending time off the field for deliberate and cynical infringements.
The Bulls were not without their own troubles as JJ Engelbrecht and Grant Hattingh were both sin-binned for similar offences.
The Bulls dominated possession in the first half but were met with a defence filled with passion and pride. Province hardly had any ball in hand in the first ten minutes but once they gained possession, they made it count.
The visitors were penalised for not releasing the player on their own 22m line and a quick tap from scrumhalf Nic Groom fed the speeding left wing Senatla who beat two defenders and dived over in style for the home sides’ first try of the afternoon.
Dimitri Catrakilis converted the try but Jacques Louis Potgieter reduced the deficit by three points just four minutes later as Carizza was penalised for being offside.
The penalty did not detract from WP’s attacking flair as they placed the Bulls under pressure straight from the kickoff and were awarded a penalty. Catrakilis kicked for the corner and from the resulting lineout, Siya Kolisi was brought down just short of the line but Cilliers picked up and drove over the line for his first try in Province colours.
Catrakilis again converted to hand the hosts an 11-point lead but Potgieter struck back within minutes with his second penalty attempt as Province were penalised for illegal scrumming.
Carizza looked the part of a centre as the big lock drew in two defenders and timed is pass to perfection to No 8 Carr, who dived over the line for try No 3. Catrakilis missed the conversion with WP leading 19-6 at the break.
The visitors made a strong start to the second stanza with Potgieter landing two penalties within five minutes of the restart to bring the Bulls within seven points of their hosts. Despite the Bulls dominating possession and territory, Catrakilis was able to land his only penalty of the day to extend the lead to 10 points.
It was then that the discipline of both sides fell apart as the Bulls looked to press home their advantage of territory and possession. WP were given a genral warning by referee Rasta Rasivhenge and it was Carizza that was first to go.
The lock knocked the ball out of Piet van Zyl’s hands as the scrumhalf tried to clear the base of the ruck. But such was the nature of the match that the hosts managed to turn the ball over, with Catrakilis kicking the ball down field. Engelbrecht was caught in possession on defence and once bundled out into touch, threw the ball away and found the wrath of Rasivhenge with a yellow card.
Province took a quick throw in and moved the ball down the backline to the left hand side of the field where Senatla sauntered over for his second try of the day. Catrakilis converted to hand WP a 17-point advantage.
The Bulls pounded the hosts’ tryline with wave after wave of attacks but the WP defence held. The hosts won a penalty as the Bulls did not release the ball on the ground and Catrakilis launched a cross-kick which Senatla chased, gathered and raced down the left-hand touchline. The winger fed inside to De Jongh who was brought down just short of the line, only for Hanttingh to be sin binned for deliberately knocking the ball down.
Rhodes then drove for the line and after a TMO referral, the flanker was awarded the try with Catrakilis converting to give the men from Cape Town a 24-point cushion.
Once all the players had returned from their respective sin-bins, the Bulls managed to cross the line through Mbonambi. After yet more sustained pressure from the Pretoria outfit, Mbonambi fed the line out short and received the ball back, raced down the touchline and went over in the corner for the Bulls’ only try.
The game seemed to be petering out but then some brilliance from fullback Cheslin Kolbe set the stadium alight with some fancy footwork from the halfway line. Kolbe stepped in and out, beating several Bulls players before offloading to his captain, De Jongh, with a no-look pass to send the inside centre over for WP’s sixth try on the stroke of fulltime.
Western Province – Tries: Seabelo Senatla (2), Pat Cilliers, Nizaam Caar, Michael Rhodes, Juan de Jongh; Conversions: Dimitri Catrakilis (4); Penalty: Catrakilis.
Blue Bulls – Try: Bongi Mbonambi; Penalties: Potgieter (4).