Defending champions Western Province staged a brilliant second-half fightback on Saturday to beat the Pampas XV 28-17 in their Vodacom Cup match at Newlands.
Province were down 5-17 as early as the 44th minute following the Pampas’ third try, but the visitors’ conditioning didn’t allow them to sustain their effort over 80 minutes.
Perhaps their big lead also masked the fact that WP had actually competed well in the first half. The home side made a number of forays into the visitors’ territory, but were undone by mistakes.
Pumas test flyhalf Martin Landajo had a massive influence on the game. He fed skipper and No 8 Leonardo Senatore beautifully for the try that increased the Pampas’ lead to 12-5 in the first half, while a sniping break took them deep into WP’s territory before fullback Matias Massero finished.
Earlier left wing Manuel Montero had opened the scoring following a counter-attack.
But WP stuck manfully to their task and ultimately made it look quite easy thanks to a pack that went into overdrive.
They kicked off their fightback with a try from a rolling maul by rising loose forward star Sikhumbuzo Notshe and then got within two points after a delightful little play by centre Mike van der Spuy. He broke and found left wing Pat Howard with the off-load.
Van der Spuy was having a bit of a nightmare with the boot and missed all three his conversion attempts.
But it mattered little as WP took the lead with a superb individual try by flyhalf Tim Swiel. Dillyn Leyds converted and then added a penalty for a decisive eight-point lead with 15 minutes left.
The Pampas tried their utmost to get back into it, but Santiago Gonzales Iglesias fluffed his lines with an easy penalty attempt.
Swiel then rammed home WP’s advantage with a sweetly struck drop goal.
Western Province 28 (5): Tries: Pat Howard (2), Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Tim Swiel. Conversion: Dillyn Leyds. Penalty: Leyds. Drop goal: Swiel.
Pampas 17 (12): Tries: Manuel Montero, Leonardo Senatore, Matias Massera. Conversion: Benjamin Madero.