Western Province, Border and the Pumas on Wednesday had the Polokwane crowd singing their praises at the Coca-Cola Craven week as they outplayed their opposition for pleasing victories.
The Cape side’s 30-6 victory and Border’s 37-19 win - which marked back-to-back wins for the teams in the series - left the teams in a two-way race for a place in the final match of the tournament on Saturday.
The clash between the Blue Bulls and Western Province was thrilling from the outset, as the teams threw everything at each other in a physical battle. Such was the competitive nature of the clash Western Province were reduced to 13 men early on following yellow cards for dangerous tackles. But despite this, they scored the first points compliments of a penalty by Grant Hermanus.
The Bulls levelled the scores a few minutes later thanks to a penalty by Jemeel Warnick.
But the Cape side dominated proceedings thanks to their powerful forwards, domination at the breakdowns and their smart game plan to string together several phases on attack.
This earned them another penalty and a well-deserved try on the stroke of half time by Petrus Bothma to take a 13-3 lead.
The Bulls fought back with intent in the second half and created two try-scoring chances in the first 10 minutes, but the tenacious Western Province defence held them out.
The Cape team again took control of the match by bursting over the advantage line and stretching the Bulls’ defence, which earned them two tries in nine minutes in the third quarter to shut the Bulls out and secure an emphatic 30-6 win.
Border, meanwhile, dominated possession and territory and forced Boland to defend for long periods, which set them up for their 37-19 victory.
They supported this with a solid attacking display guided by flyhalf and man-of-the match Lungelo Gosa and outside centre Somila Jho, earning the team a satisfactory six tries. Boland’s main strength was their rolling mauls, but unfortunately they battled to gain much of an advantage from it.
The Pumas also produced a solid display for their 40–18 victory against KwaZulu-Natal.
The clash started off conservatively with a penalty exchange between Pumas flyhalf Brandon Thomson and KwaZulu-Natal’s Kurt Webster.
But the Pumas hit their straps two minutes before half time with flank Willandre Kotzenberg crashing over the tryline, which bolstered the team’s confidence significantly.
The Durban side fought back early in the second half and they were particularly strong in the lineouts, but two tries in three minutes by the Puma’s Mzwakhe Fransman and Mauro Bucuchane in the last 10 minutes to add to Bucuchane’s early second-half try sealed the victory.
In the other matches, Namibia thumped Griquas 27-10, while Zimbabwe outclassed hosts, the Limpopo Blue Bulls 43-5.
In the main matches on Thursday Free State will meet the Golden Lions, while Eastern Province will take on neighbours SWD.
Coca-Craven Week Day 3 results:
WP 30 - 6 Blue Bulls
KZN 18 – 40 Pumas
Boland 19 – 37 Border
Limpopo Blue Bulls 5 – 43 Zimbabwe
Namibia 27 – 10 Griquas
Coca-Cola Craven Week Day 4 fixtures:
09h30 Leopards vs Border CD
11h00 Valke vs Griquas CD
12h30 Griffons vs EP CD
14h00 EP vs SWD
15h30 Free State vs Golden Lions