DHL Western Province ran in six-unanswered tries as they crushed the Xerox Golden Lions 39-3 (halftime 22-3) in their Currie Cup clash at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening.
The men from Johannesburg dominated possession and territory throughout the match but Province produced a monstrous defensive effort to shut out the Lions from crossing the try line. The home side made tackle after tackle, using a two-man tackle formation and it proved successful.
Try as they might, the visitors could not find a way through the defensive line but when they did manage to create a hole, either poor handling or misdirected passes left the Lions frustrated as the visitors were only able to add three points to the scoreboard through flyhalf Jaco van der Walt midway through the first half.
But it was the home side who opened the scoring against the run of play with centre Huw Jones providing a moment of brilliance. The Scottish international charged down a clearance effort from wing Anthony Volmink but managed to hold onto the ball and saunter under the posts for the first try, which was converted by fullback SP Marais.
With the home side leading by four points, and starting to gain some confidence after a difficult opening 20-minute period, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak caught the Lions defence off guard with a quick-taken penalty. Vermaak moved left and offloaded to Number 8, Nizaam Carr, who had been a major presence in the loose. Carr fed centre EW Viljoen who broke through a tackle before offloading to his captain, Chris van Zyl. Van Zyl had presence of mind to offload in the tackle to debutante flanker, Cobus Wiese, and the 20-year old picked the ball up off his boot laces and managed to stumble his way over the try line.
Flyhalf Damian Willemse slotted a penalty for the home team three minutes before the break to give his side a 12-point cushion but then winger, Dillyn Leyds, who was named man of the match, broke through the Lions defence and charged upfield before being high0tackle by Volmink.
Leyds then threw a pop-pass to Jones who then beat two defenders to score his second try of the night on the stroke of halftime. Willemse converted the try to hand the hosts a very comfortable 19-point lead at the break. To add insult to injury for the visitors, Volmink was shown a yellow card by referee Jaco van Heerden.
With Province, who have only beaten the Lions once in their last five outings before tonight, needed to conitue their first half effort in order to avoid the meltdown that occurred against the Vodacom Blue Bulls a week earlier, and that they did.
With the Lions again making a strong start to the second stanza, trying to find a way through the blue and white brick wall, it was the home team who turned the tables as Viljoen put the ball behind the Lions defence with a grubber kick. The bounce favoured wing Seabelo Senatla, who picked up and ran around to score the bonus-point try under the sticks.
Province had their tales up and right from the kick off the home side moved the ball to the left where Dan Kriel, who replaced the injured Marais, broke out of the 22m area and fed inside to Carr, who carried the ball deep inside the Lions half before timing his offload to Vermaak well, allowing the scrumhalf to go over in the left-hand corner.
Despite Willemse missing the conversion from a very tight angle, Province were virtually out of sight with a 31-point lead 10 minutes into the second half.
The Lions continued to press and charge at the advantage line without success. Province continually tackled the ball-carrier behind the advantage line and in some cases, carrying the man back in the tackle.
With the line-outs and scrums being a mess for both sides, it was the home side who used the little ball they got the most and the evening was rounded off on the stroke of full time when Leyds again provided a moment of brilliance from a quickly taken lineout.
Leyds broke free of the Lions defence and then offloaded to replacement scrumhalf, Dewaldt Duvenage, who kept the move alive with a cheeky one-handed flip-pass to replacement prop, Caylib Oosthuizen. The big man took the ball into contact before it was recycled and passed to Senatla, who drove for the line with two defenders on his back, to score his second of the night.
With a full house of five points in the bag and their third win of the season, Province moved themselves up to third place on the Currie Cup log with 16 points from five matches while the Lions find themselves second-from-bottom on nine points, having lost four games from five attempts.