A brace of tries from hooker Scarra Ntubeni helped DHL Western Province to a bonus-point 28-14 (halftime 8-5) Carling Currie Cup victory over the Phakisa Pumas at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening.
The match, which was littered with penalties from both sides, was more of a stop-start affair with a few moments of flair dotted around a damp Newlands venue witnessing the last few matches at the iconic ground. Referee Paul Mante awarded no fewer than 29 penalties in the match as well as two yellow cards, one to each side.
Wing Angelo Davids and a late try from Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff handed Province the much needed bonus-point with flyhalf Kade Wolhuter slotting one conversion and three penalties while the Pumas snuck over for a single try through centre Erich Cronje and three penalties from flyhalf Devon Williams.
The Pumas were the stronger side in the first stanza and were awarded with the opening try in the 15th minute when Cronje crawled his way over the line with Williams failing to add the two points. Province were awful at the breakdown with the visitors dominating around the ruck but the home side did enjoy a slight ascendancy at scrum-time even with debutant Lee-Marvin Mazibuko scrumming down in place of Springbok Frans Malherbe who had to withdraw shortly before kick-off.
The tide turned shortly before halftime when Mante sent lock Le Roux Roets to the sin bin for a dangerous head-high tackle on Mazibuko. Wolhuter slotted the resulting penalty to put the hosts on the board and then just before the half-time whistle, Ntubeni barged over for his opening try after a strong maul from the home side after a penalty was kicked to the corner. Wolhuter missed the conversion from a tight angle to leave Province three points to the good going into the break.
The second period saw a different Province-side come out as they pushed the Pumas back, dominated the early exchanges and were rewarded with their second try when a strong forward movement was finished off on the right by Davids, who received a long pass, side-stepped three defenders and then forced his way over with another two defenders on his back to extend the lead to eight points with Wolhuter again missing the uprights.
Four minutes later and Province were again camped on the Pumas line after another penalty was kicked to the corner. Again Province went to their trusted maul, which was starting to work like a well-oiled machine and Ntubeni controlled well before breaking away and crashing over the line for his second try of the evening.
The sides traded a few penalties and the sides ping-ponged looking for a clear advantage but the home side, pushing for a fourth try to secure a much-needed bonus-point, were dealt a blow when, with the Pumas on the attack, replacement scrumhalf Herschelle Jantjies was sent to the bin with just six minutes left on the clock.
Being down to 14 men lifted the Pumas spirits for a potential fightback but Province held out after a strong onslaught from the visitors and managed to fight their way out of there 22m area. Province moved up the field and after a few penalties, worked their way to the corner. A few mauls and five minutes after the hooter sounded, man of the match Kitshoff barged over the line to give Province the bonus-point and seal the victory.