DHL Western Province overturned a 12-point halftime deficit to clinch a nail-biting 40-39 (halftime 16-28) Carling Currie Cup victory over the Toyota Cheetahs at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
The homes side were disjointed throughout most of the match and only started to produce the goods in the final 20 minutes, especially when replacement forward, Evan Roos, came onto the park. Province were slow and tedious at the breakdown and their backline play was slow and at times, backwards.
Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie will be furious with the amount of penalties his side gave away, with Province flyhalf Tim Swiel landing four of them to keep his side in the game. With the Cheetahs giving away all the penalties, it was the hosts who suffered yet another card offence when flanker Kuyenkea Xaba was sin-binned in the first half for cynical play.
With Xaba in the bin and Province down by just a single point, the visitors took control of the match, scoring two converted tries through Jeandre Rudolph and replacement winger, Tiaan Meyer.
Province had opened the scoring in the fifth minute when a cross-kick from Swiel found Juan de Jongh on the wing, who collected and passed inside to wing Edwil van der Merwe, who calmly fed fullback Sergeal Petersen to score an easy try which Swiel converted.
But Province’s continuous problems at kick-off let the visitors in for their first score. With Province failing to control the kick-off, the Cheetahs claimed the ball and with impressive flyhalf Reinhardt Fortuin drawing in the defenders, passed to Rudolph who went over for his first try of the game.
Despite a penalty from Swiel to hand the lead back to the home side, Fourie’s charges were back in front when Fortuin again played his fiddle and had the Province defence in tatters which led to left wing Cohan Jasper running in untouched.
Another penalty from Swiel was landed before Xaba lost his head, entering the ruck from the side and stopping the Cheetahs attack inside the 22m area. Swiel did manage to land his third penalty of the half, wedged inbetween the visitor’s two tries to leave Province trailing by 12 at the break.
Pienaar extended the lead to 15 points with his first penalty shortly after the restart but Roos’ entry into the fray brought life to the Province attack. The big No. 8 drove through the Cheetahs defence after the home side had come close from a line out.
Pienaar landed his second penalty goal to leave the Cheetahs 11 points ahead with 18 minutes left on the old Newlands clock. But from the kick-off, the Cheetahs failed to gather and De Jongh punched the ball through a gap with Senatla gathering and going over despite a look from the TMO, Egon Seconds for a possible knock-on.
With Province just four points behind, the Cheetahs broke their hearts as replacement Chris Smith danced through the home side’s defensive structures to go over in the left-hand corner. The missed conversion by Pienaar, which hit the upright, would turn out to be the kick that lost the game.
Replacement scrumhalf Godlin Masimla was almost in for a try with Province having a three-on-one but a brilliant cover-tackle from Pienaar brought an end to the attack. However, Masimla would score moments later after some good play from Senatla and great hands from Warrick Gelant put Masimla in under the poles. Swiel converted to leave the hosts two points adrift with 10 minutes remaining.
The twist was to come six minutes from time as lock Junior Pokomela was adjudged to have high-tackled Masimla and Swiel kept his calm and slotted the winning penalty.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Sergeal Peterson, Evan Roos, Seobela Senatla, Godlin Masimla; Conversions: Tim Swiel (4); Penalties: Swiel (4)
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Jeandre Rudolph (2), Cohan Jasper, Tiaan Meyer, Chris Smith; Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (4); Penalties: Pienaar (2)