DHL Western Province were crowned Vodacom Cup champions for the first time ever when they beat GWK Griquas in a nail-biting final at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.
The Capetonians’ victory by 20-18 – sealed by a converted try by flanker Rohan Kitshoff in injury time – saw the Vodacom Cup travel south of Bloemfontein for the first time in its 15 year history. The Pampas XV won the title last year from the South Section, but they were based in Potchefstroom.
It was a closely fought contest as DHL WP, coached by John Dobson, remained unbeaten for the season. Last year they only lost one game, but that was in the quarter-final round which saw them knocked out of the competition.
In fact, this was the second time in as many years that the eventual Vodacom Cup champions finished the season unbeaten.
Had the home team’s kickers, Marnitz Boshoff and Rudi Vogt, aimed better at the uprigths, things could’ve been different though. Between the two of them, they missed 17 points worth of kicks at goal.
Livewire No 8 Leon Karemaker opened the scoring with a try in the second minute for the home team, but Danie Poolman (right wing) closed the gap for DHL WP in the 18th minute when he crashed over. The teams went into the break with GWK Griquas leading 13-10.
Demetri Catrakilis added his second penalty goal shortly after the restart to level the scores, but GWK Griquas used their pack to great effect in the second half and the gap opened to 18-13 when looshead prop Janro van Niekerk crashed over in the 48th minute.
It was an arm wrestle after that, with DHL WP slowly fighting back, before Kitshoff and Catrakilis had the last say in an exciting final that brought down the curtain on a great season, during which the average audience for broadcast games on Supersport increased by more than 80% (from 96,225 in 2011 to 174,394 this year, based on figures until the end of April).
GWK Griquas – Tries: Leon Karemaker, Janro van Niekerk. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff. Penalty goals: Boshoff (2).
DHL WP – Tries: Danie Poolman, Rohan Kitshoff. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalty goals: Catrakilis (2).