Western Province used the dominance of their forward pack and an unwavering defensive performance to advance to their first Currie Cup final since 2015 when they beat the Golden Lions 19-5 in a high-pressure semifinal at Newlands on Saturday night.
It ensures them a final clash with the Sharks in Durban next weekend, who outlasted the Blue Bulls 37-27 in the earlier semifinal.
The Lions were looking for an impact from hooker Malcolm Marx and loosehead Dylan Smith but it never quite materialised as Province were very clinical in the way they nullified them.
In fact, overall the Lions could never really cope with the Newlands cauldron.
Trailing 13-5 at the break, the Lions made themselves guilty of numerous handling errors under the pressure Province created, with the home side also taking the fight to their opponents in the scrums and contact situations.
Who was the star in this match?
Wing Ruhan Nel was a star performer, but Province’s flyhalf Robert du Preez, who kicked 5/5 to score 14 points, played the big moments well and showed immense composure. He ensured scoreboard pressure was maintained for his side by kicking the penalties when it mattered to ensure.
Key moments and themes
- Lions coach Swys de Bruin surprised by moving two of his Springboks in hooker Malcolm Marx and prop Ruan Dreyer to the bench prior to kickoff. They were initially in the starting line-up. He then sent them on seven minutes before halftime along with loosehead Dylan Smith. It was a calculated risk that actually proved more disruptive than inspiring.
- Lions flyhalf Jaco van der Walt scored the first try of the game in the eighth minute when he ghosted past opposite number Robert du Preez to give his side a lead of 5-3 but that proved deceptive. Province tightened up and allowed the Lions no space on attack.
- After Dreyer conceded a scrum penalty two minutes before halftime, Province’s Bok prop Wilco Louw scored his team’s first try when he bulldozed over from close range. However, it suspiciously appeared to be a double movement and an obvious error on the side of referee Rasta Rashivhenge. It’s a moot point how much of a difference it would’ve made to the final score but it was a highly debatable call to make in such a big game.
- Province lock JD Schickerling is a massive talent but he makes himself guilty of unnecessary niggles and received a yellow card in the sixth minute after pulling a Lions maul down. He was often involved in scuffles off the ball with Lions counterpart Marvin Orie. It detracted a bit from a fine collective showing from the WP pack.
Western Province – Try: Wilco Louw. Conversion: Robert du Preez. Penalties: Du Preez (4).
Golden Lions – Try: Jaco van der Walt.