Western Province clinched a comfortable 36-10 win against the Pumas at the U18 Craven Week at St Stithians College on Monday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Province came into this contest as firm favourites, and apart from a couple of defensive lapses early on, it all went according to script for the defending champions.
The Pumas tried their best to prevent WP from settling on attack and to disrupt their defensive organisation. The latter initially worked well, as the Pumas had WP’s defence stretched twice. But with the tryline at their mercy, fullback Muller du Plessis made two try-saving tackles to deny the much bigger Prince Nkabinde in the left corner.
The Pumas were made to rue those early missed opportunities, as WP slowly worked their way into the contest and ultimately into a commanding position.
Stephan van der Bank kicked the Pumas into the lead with a fifth-minute penalty. But Province wrestled the ascendancy back when flank Vian Fourie crashed over from close quarters.
The conversion went awry, and from the restart the Pumas retained possession. Knowing any score could take the Pumas back into the lead, Fourie made a crucial turnover. After his defensive excellence earlier, Du Plessis put his attacking abilities on display with a devastating run from inside the 22. The fullback slipped three would-be tacklers before linking up with Thaakir Abrahams. From there they just recycled the ball, and hooker Chris Rossouw straightened the attack and bashed over.
Leading by nine, backs Dawid Kellerman and Du Plessis were next to score as WP led 24-3 at the halfway mark.
The Pumas threw caution to the wind and reduced Province to just two tries in the second half. But again, they were let down by poor execution and finishing by Nkabinde.
It was fourth time lucky for the winger, who put a lethal fend on his nemesis Du Plessis in the 55th minute to score a converted try. Five minutes later, Nkabinde had another chance to score, but after doing so well to get past two tacklers, he lost control of the ball in the in-goal area.
The action faded in the last 10 minutes of the game with neither side able to add to their tally until the final whistle sounded.
Pumas – Try: Prince Nkabinde. Conversion: Stephan van der Bank. Conversion: Van der Bank.
Western Province – Tries: Vian Fourie, Chris Rossouw, Dawid Kellerman, Muller du Plessis, Janko Swanepoel, Gerado Jaars. Conversions: Duren Hoffman (3).
Pumas – 15 Coenraad Visser, 14 Tshepo Malumane, 13 Siphesihle Mthethwa, 12 Riekert Barnard, 11 Teboho Mosia, 10 Stephan van der Bank, 9 Joao Cristovam, 8 Calvin Clack, 7 Renier Troskie, 6 Bongumenzi Dlamini, 5 Marius Slabbert, 4 Sibusiso Madonsela, 3 Wian Otto, 2 SP Muller, 1 Banele Mthenjane.
Subs: 16 Gerald van Eeden, 17 Nkosinathi Mthetwa, 18 Duart Willemse, 19 Lindelani Makhanya, 20 Tiaan de Beer, 21 Uys de Preez, 22 Thabiso Mkwabane, 23 Prince Nkabinde.
Western Province – 15 Muller du Plessis, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Dawid Kellerman, 12 Rufus Dercksen, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Quan Eymann, 9 Vusile Dlepu, 8 Joachim Martins, 7 Sujai Ikemefuna, 6 Vian Fourie, 5 Adrian Alberts, 4 Ian Kitwanga, 3 Tristan Leitch, 2 Joshua Muller, 1 Hugo Pienaar.
Subs: 16 Christaan Rossouw, 17 Alexander Mbete, 18 Joshua du Preez, 19 Janco Swanepoel, 20 Sujai Ikemefuna, 21 Gerado Jaars, 22 Mogamat Karriem, 23 Duren Hoffman.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images