Western Province remained the only unbeaten side in this year’s Vodacom Cup after beating the Free State XV 42-31 (22-14) in Durbanville on Saturday.
It was a really hard-fought battle that Province only wrapped up three minutes before the end, when loose forward Rohan Kitshoff scored his third try.
Though Free State scored the first five pointer of the afternoon, Province had an early grip on the match. With seven minutes left before the break, the home side led 22-7 after tries by Damian de Allende, Rohan Kitshoff and Ghafoet Luckan.
Free State winger Marco Mason was then shown yellow for a dangerous tackle, but the Cape side struggled to play well against their 14-man opposition..
Free State scored twice in Mason’s absence and he himself scored when he got back on the field to give his side a lead of 28-22.
The visitors’ fullback Nico Scheepers kicked incredibly well – all three conversions were difficult ones.
A penalty and Kitshoff’s second try handed Province the lead again. But that was short lived – Scheepers slotted a tricky penalty soon after.
With just less than 10 minutes to go, Province lock Hilton Lobberts scored a try, diving over like a young Bob Skinstad. Lobberts had an immense afternoon carrying the ball strongly and tackling like a devil.
The visitors had a few opportunities to hit back in the final minutes and for the first time this season Province had trouble defending against a decent attacking unit.
An unforced error in Province’s 22, as well as a penalty, saw Province progress to Free State’s 22. A lineout and maul later, Kitshoff got his hat-trick to secure Province’s seventh consecutive victory this season.
Western Province - Tries: Damian de Allende, Rohan Kitshoff (3), Ghafoet Luckan, Hilton Lobberts. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Penalties: Catrakilis (2).
Free State - Tries: Riaan Smit, Inus Kritzinger, Robert van Schalkwyk, Marco Mason. Conversions: Nico Scheepers (4). Penalty: Scheepers.