Both the Bulls and the Sharks were already assured of a home semi-final before the last weekend of Currie Cup round-robin action, and neither of them were able to put in a top-class performance, with Western Province’s victory at Kings Park, inspired by a piece of famous poetry, having the most effect on the competition as it meant they just snuck into the top four ahead of the Pumas.
Western Province coach John Dobson said their 35-24 win over the Sharks had been a top-class display of tenacity as his team just refused to let their Currie Cup hopes die.
Their reward will be a semi-final against the defending champion Bulls at Loftus Versfeld this weekend.
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“I’m very proud of the team. They played with real desperation and pride, admittedly against a Sharks team that did not have as much on the line,” Dobson said.
“It was a very special result to come here and win. We read the players that Dylan Thomas poem about ‘do not go gentle into that night, rage rage against the dying of the light’ and they played with real commitment.
“We were quite badly depleted with two flanks playing at lock, a wing at fullback and a centre on the wing, but we played with energy.”
The Bulls had earlier beaten the Free State Cheetahs 39-36 at Loftus Versfeld to ensure they topped the final log, but it was not a good performance and their struggle to put away the Cheetahs had a lot to do with their own ill-discipline and mistakes.
“We’re a bit down because we let them back in the game, but it doesn’t matter. The pool stages are now irrelevant and what matters is the next two weeks, and we’ve got home advantage,” said Bulls coach Jake White.
“We are a bit deflated because we let in tries, but let’s not forget that we played the last 10 minutes with 14 men and the Cheetahs were good enough to expose us out wide.”
The Pumas will be kicking themselves that they were edged out of the semifinals as they wasted a lot of scoring opportunities in their 13-13 draw with Griquas in Kimberley.
Griquas therefore finished third on the log and will be travelling to Durban to play the Sharks with a lot of confidence after they won their last match at Kings Park at the end of last month.