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Western Province reserved their best performance yet this season to topple the hitherto unbeaten Sharks 34-27 in the coastal Currie Cup derby at Newlands on Saturday evening after the Sharks lead 20-17 at the break.
The match statistics will point to a convincing win by virtue of Province outscoring the Sharks 5-2 in the eventual try count.
Province looked full of running from the kick-off and their spirited start took the visiting Sharks by surprise. As a result, they ran in two converted tries in the opening 10 minutes.
Johnny Kotze who was switched to inside centre after the 11th-hour withdrawal of Huw Jones caught the Sharks backline defence napping with an angled run inside the opposition 22m area and scored next to the posts in the second minute.
The 12 000-strong home crowd were back on its feet eight minutes later when Province flyhalf Robert du Preez crosskicked from just inside his half. His rightwing Werner Kok beat the Sharks’ defence in an aerial duel for the ball and raced in past a few would-be defenders for Province’s second try.
The Sharks were relying on the trusty boot of teenage fullback Curwin Bosch to keep them in the picture and he did so in style with a hefty 15 point contribution from five penalties.
Sharks openside flank Jean-Luc du Preez, the brother of Province flyhalf Robert du Preez scored his side’s only first-half try although referee Rasta Rasivhenge failed to spot the scoring pass was forward but it helped to ensure that the KZN visitors were 20-17 ahead at the break.
The Province hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni was stretched off with a leg injury in the 12th minute and was replaced by Neil Rautenbach
Once the teams returned for second-half play, Province wasted no time in imposing themselves on the game and deservedly reclaimed the lead with two tries just ahead of the hour mark.
Province pivot Du Preez unleashed a perfectly weighted crosskick with outside centre EW Viljoen did well to collect and pounce over to score. Before the match, Viljoen was moved off the bench to replace the injured Jones.
In the 57th minute, Province produced a penetrative rolling maul which must have made its way downfield some 25 metres before a scoring pass was fed to the unmarked Province flank Kobus van Wyk. Du Preez was on target with one conversion and it helped to open a 10-point lead at 27-20.
Some 13 minutes from the end, Du Preez again engineered Province’s next try when he grubbered through the Sharks midfield defence and again Viljoen pounced. Du Preez’s conversion raised the scoreline out to 34-20 and hopes that the Sharks’ first defeat of the Currie Cup season was a distinct possibility.
Sharks substitute Rhyno Smith ran in a converted try for the Sharks near the end but when the Stormers finished the game much stronger the home crowd’s nerves was settled by the time the full-time whistle sounded (34-27).
Final Score Western 34 (17) Sharks 27 (20)
Tries: Johnny Kotze, Werner Kok, EW Viljoen (2), Kobus van Dyk
Conversions: Robert du Preez
Penalties: Du Preez (2)
Tries: Jean-Luc du Preez, Rhyno Smith.
Conversion: Curwin Bosch.
Penalties: Bosch (5)
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