Currie Cup

Province make a Bulls run at Currie Cup table

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Table-topping Western Province had a championship look about them in their 25-19 Currie Cup victory over the Blue Bulls in the North-South derby at Newlands on Saturday evening.

The victory was a fitting reward for Province who managed to overturn a 16-12 first-half deficit with a spirited second-half display to clinch another fine victory and avenge their first-round 30-22 defeat at Loftus.

Province started on a jittery note as they allowed the visiting Bulls to take the initiative straight from the kick-off. As a result play in the first 12 minutes of the match was confined to the Province half and the Bulls flyhalf Burton Francis made the territorial advantage count when he banged over two close-range penalties (6-0).

Province were also experiencing great difficulty at the line-outs and they surrendered their three two throw-ins.

On the two occasions that Province managed to break into the Bulls half following turn-overs, the Bulls were pulled up for infringements and Province fullback Joe Pietersen managed to convert an 18th minute penalty (6-3).

But the Bulls bounced back with a series of penetrative forays into the Province half and after they managed to look after their possession through the phases they were rewarded with the try of the match, scored by centre Jaco Pretorius in the 21st minute. Burton converted splendidly from the touchline (13-3).

Province managed to regain their composure and were able to take play far more often into the Bulls half, where Pietersen struck it rich with two penalties in quick succession (13-9).

In the final 10 minutes of the first half, Burton advanced the Bulls’ lead with another penalty although Province lifted their game several notches without managing to breach the opposition defence, although they very close on two occasions (16-9).

Province, however, had to settle for a Pietersen penalty — their only reward for a creditable workmanlike finish to the first half (16-12).

When the second half got under way Province looked like a transformed side.

The Bulls’ defence stopped several scoring efforts just short of their tryline, and again, at a time when Province were dominating, their score advance came via Pietersen penalties in early second-half play.

Pietersen’s strikes also allowed Province to take the lead for the first time in the match, and the 43 000 crowd erupted into a frenzy of wild cheering (18-16).

The loud excitement on the surrounding terraces was the cue for Province, who ran hard and fast at the Bulls and the tactic paved the way for their first try in the match after an exciting sortie into the Bulls’ 22m area.

After a scrum just some six metres from the Bulls’ tryline Province’s eighthman and skipper Luke Watson dived over for a converted try after the Bulls were unable to halt a powerful scrum surge on the hour mark (25-16).

This score seemed to be a turning point in the match as the Bulls subsequently seemed to lose cohesion as they battled to claw their way back into the match.

They kept ball in hand more often and the ploy played into Province’s hands as they seemed to enjoy the better of the exchanges at breakdown play.

Province finished strongly and came to light with several threatening moves but they had to settle for the 25-19 scoreline as their finishing touches deserted them.

Final Score Western Province 25 Blue Bulls 19

Scorers:

WP:
Try: Luke Watson.
Conversion: Joe Pietersen.
Penalties: Pietersen (6)

Blue Bulls:
Try: Jaco Pretorius.
Conversion: Burton Francis.
Penalties: Francis (4).

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