WP make final after ding-dong battle
July 10, 2017

DHL Western Province maintained their unbeaten record in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge when they beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls 28-24 (halftime 13-14) in the second semifinal played at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane on Sunday.

It was a titanic battle of old between the northern and southern foes played at a cold and windy community stadium that has a capacity of 15 000 fans, hosting mainly football games.

The Blue Bulls had the ascendancy in terms of the scrums, possession and territory but it was the unbeaten Province team that held their nerve and scored when it was needed to set up a SuperSport Rugby Challenge final showdown with the Tafel Lager Griquas in Cape Town next weekend.

Western Province claimed the lead 10 minutes into the second half but then relinquished their advantage just minutes later. But an unconverted try by No 8, Jaco Coetzee, was the difference between the sides as Province held out for the final 10 minutes as the Bulls tried in vain to find the winning score.

Province thought they had opened the scoring in the third minute, as flanker Johan du Toit burst over the line to score, but after a referral by referee Adriaan Jacobs, the try was overturned due to a forward pass by centre Michal Hazner to stand-in captain Craig Barry earlier in the move.

That early scare set the Bulls in motion as they worked their way down the field and after numerous WP penalties, centre Dries Swanepoel dived over for the opening try after some good side-stepping. Province conceded a penalty on the halfway line as man of the match Godlen Masimla had dived on Swanepoel after the try was scored.

But such was the strength of the wind that the Bulls were playing into in the first half, that flyhalf Joshua Stander tried to go for touch but failed to find it and handed possession back to Province.

Province worked their way back into the opposition half and, with a penalty awarded, Masimla took a quick-tap and forced his way close to the line, only to be stopped short. WP worked the ball back and moved left with centre Ruhan Nel almost forcing his way over, but a clever offload to Luke Stringer allowed the flanker to stretch for the line to score Province's first points of the match.

The home side had to spend 10 minutes with 14 men as lock Jurie van Vuuren was shown a yellow card for a dangerous high tackle after flyhalf Kurt Coleman had landed a penalty to give Province a three-point lead midway through the first half.

The Bulls used their numerical advantage well and scored a converted try through replacement utility back, Franco Naude as the ball was chipped into open space behind the Province backline before bouncing perfectly for Naude to collect and score close to the poles.

Coleman landed his second penalty of the afternoon as the Bulls were caught offside to leave his side just one point adrift at the halftime break.

JD Schickerling's introduction in the second stanza gave Province a bit more solidity in the scrums and some go-forward in the loose as the big lock set up Masimla's try after 63 minutes. Coleman and Stander had traded penalties early in the second half before Schickerling's strong run.

The tall lock gathered the ball just inside the Bull's half and forcefully made his way up the park to the 22m line. Masimla, who had masterfully kept his cool behind a weak pack, picked up the ball, spotted a gap and burst through to score under the poles.

Coleman's conversion gave WP a six-point lead with just 12 minutes left on the clock. Their lead lasted just four minutes as the Bulls made their way back into the Province 22m area and, after some good build-up, Stander flicked the ball inside to right-wing Dewald Naude, who dived over to the right of the poles to give the Bulls a one-point lead with 11 minutes remaining.

But Province scored straight after the kickoff as they retained the ball and worked their way left with some quick hands, allowing Coetzee to force his way over in the left-hand corner for the winning try.

Western Province will now face-off against Griquas, who beat the xerox Golden Lions in the first semifinal, in the title-decider for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.


DHL Western Province - Tries: Luke Stringer, Godlen Masimla, Jaco Coetzee; Conversions: Kurt Coleman (2); Penalties: Coleman (3).

Vodacom Blue Bulls - Tries: Dries Swanepoel, Franco Naude, Dewald Naude; Conversions: Joshua Stander (3); Penalty: Stander.

HSBC Sevens World Series Singapore
Saturday, April 28 2018
05:00 - Scotland vs Australia
05:22 - New Zealand vs Wales
05:44 - Argentina vs Canada
06:06 - South Africa vs Samoa
06:30 - USA vs France
06:52 - Kenya vs England
07:14 - Spain vs Russia
07:36 - Fiji vs Japan
08:28 - Scotland vs Wales

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