Province seal Currie Cup Semi-final spot

Western Province stormed into the Currie Cup play-offs with a rousing 43-3 win over Griquas in the Currie Cup Premier Division match at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.


Province crowned their victory with a bonus point after they managed five tries against a side that scored a shock victory over them in first-round competition. A heavy downpour and a soggy pitch greeted the teams as they ran out.


As a result of the heavy underfoot conditions play was frequently punctuated by knock-ons, dropped passes and spilt catches.


Province wisely opted to kick for field positions to transfer play to the opposition half whereas the visiting Griquas opted for a more adventurous approach in conditions more suited to an ice-rink.


The Brisbane-based Australian Test referee Paul Marks, who handled the match, kept a close watch on the Griquas offenders who paid a severe price for their indiscretions which amounted to 12 points against them in the first 21 minutes.


Province full-back Joe Pietersen was on target with four penalties (12-0).


Griquas suffered another setback when their captain, Jonathan Mokuena, was yellow-carded in the 21st minute and in his absence Province took full advantage of the visitors’ depleted ranks to score the first try of the match when prop Brok Harris charged over.


In the play leading up to the try the Province pack set up a driving maul which took play from 20 metres to within a whisker of the Griquas try line. Pietersen’s conversion gave Province a commanding 19-0 lead.


Griquas flyhalf and Newlands old boy Naas Olivier nailed his second attempt at a penalty to finally open his side’s scoring account (19-3).


Despite conditions Province were stringing together several multi-phase movements in the opposition half and their efforts were again rewarded with an unconverted try by Pietersen, six minutes ahead of the half-time break (24-3).


At the start of the second half Province brought their latest recruit, Matt Toomua, into the fray and flyhalf Peter Grant moved out to inside centre. Frikkie Welsh moved from outside centre to right wing at the expense of Tonderai Chavhanga.


Province also replaced Dewaldt Duvenhage with Springbok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie.


Seven minutes into the half, the Aussie referee posted Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg for foul play and at an ensuing set-scrum replacement Deon Fourie was called on to step into the No 2 role, while openside flanker was sacrificed.


The showers eased up as the second half wore on and this was the cue for Province to run the ball more frequently.


Province launched several promising movements but the finishing touch seemed to desert them out wide as they kept probing away for a bonus-point win.


On the hour mark Province forced their way over from a five-metre line-out with flanker Duane Vermeulen dotting down a converted try, and all that was left was to secure a fourth try for the bonus point.


Egged on by the surprisingly large 26 000 crowd, who braved the fierce “Cape of Storms” elements the home side’s play seemed to take, a backwards step as a measure of desperation thwarted their efforts in a 12-minute passage of play.


However, Province’s perseverance paid off in the end when Welsh dived on a kick-ahead by centre Juan de Jongh for the side’s fourth try of the match, eight minutes before the final whistle.


Pietersen’s conversion failed (36-3).


Just for good measure Pr

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