A battle for inches

Hard landing: Sikhumbuzo Notshe of Western Province during the Currie Cup semifinal match between DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands, in Cape Town, on Saturday. Picture: Carl Fourie/ Gallo Images
Hard landing: Sikhumbuzo Notshe of Western Province during the Currie Cup semifinal match between DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands, in Cape Town, on Saturday. Picture: Carl Fourie/ Gallo Images

Province’s victory over the Lions and the Sharks’ mauling of the Blue Bulls means this year’s Currie Cup final will be an all-coastal affair.

Western Province made it an all-coastal side Currie Cup final by joining the Sharks in Saturday’s domestic competition decider, after prevailing over the Golden Lions at Newlands in Cape Town last night.

With the Sharks having dealt with the Blue Bulls 37-27 in the earlier free-flowing and scoring affair in Durban, Province emerged the victors in a tight affair many would have expected to be entertaining. It wasn’t.

Thanks to desperate defence, a lack of composure on the ball and the shrill blast of referee Rasta Rasivhenge’s whistle, the game bubbled with much intent but never got going, meaning the two sides were locked in a battle for inches.

With the game set up that way, both sides scored a try apiece, through flyhalf Jaco van der Walt for the Lions and prop Wilco Louw for the hosts. The result was decided more by which side made more mistakes.

Enter Province flyhalf Robert du Preez, who kicked the rest of John Dobson’s team’s points via a conversion of Louw’s try and four penalty goals and set up a final against a side coached by his father and boasting his twin brothers in the team.

The result means Province will be the away team in the final, which will be played in Durban on Saturday after the number one (Sharks) and number two (WP) teams on the log booked their place in the decider.

In the first semifinal, the Sharks stayed true to their table-topping reputation by putting a plucky but callow Blue Bulls team in their place at Kings Park Stadium in Durban.

While dominant at the scrums, superior in the lineouts and almost always on the front foot in the scrap for the advantage line, the hosts were given a massive leg up by their naive opponents early on in the game and did a decent job afterwards of keeping them at arm’s length.

In three of their four tries, the Bulls knocked on twice in front of their own try line, mistakes which led to tries by Lukhanyo Am and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder. Visiting scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl gifted Sharks captain Ruan Botha his try with a telegraphed charge-down.

The fourth try was a well-worked training ground move which carved the Bulls’ defence and allowed winger Kobus van Wyk to stride in. This was a nod to the fact that prop Thomas du Toit gave the visitors a torrid time at scrums and flanker Keegan Daniel gave the hosts a surfeit of possession from the lineouts, despite being the shortest man in the lineout.

Captain Botha led the Sharks well with a hand in lineout ball, defence, try scoring and mature decision-making. Flyhalf Curwin Bosch kicked all seven of his kicks at goal (four conversions, two penalties and one drop-goal). Am again enhanced his reputation as an erudite centre who does a fine line in doing the right thing at the right time, in attack and defence.

As for the Bulls, the fact that they were 14-0 down after seven minutes and 28-13 at halftime, but still made it a reasonably close contest, was testament to the fact that they may be naive and error-ridden, but are a persistent lot who keep attacking and offloading, regardless of the score.

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