CAPE TOWN – Western Province ran Free State Cheetahs ragged for a six-try first-half haul en route to an eventual 57-14 Currie Cup win at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
The final result was never in doubt from the time Province bagged their opening try in the sixth minute and thereafter the visiting Cheetahs were condemned to a largely defensive role in the rest of the encounter.
Free State strangely dominated the possession and territory stats in the opening 20 minutes, but they were unable to make headway against the WP defence.
On the contrary, WP looked awesome on attack with ball-in-hand and the result was four tries in the opening 20 minutes as they raced ahead of the clock with a 26-0 lead and a bonus point.
Hooker Ramone Samuels, wing Craig Barry, flank Jaco Coetzee and lock JD Schickerling were the try-scorers, and flyhalf Damian Willemse was on target with three conversions, two of which were struck from the touchline.
Apart from Free State’s weak defence, WP helped their cause with excellent support play, which ensured momentum on their attacks.
In remaining first-half play, centre Huw Jones scored try No 5 (unconverted) and then WP prop Wilco Louw crashed over twice for tries.
However, after TMO intervention only one was allowed and it went unconverted to give the ‘Streeptruie’ a 36-0 lead at the halftime break.
Province were looking to up the momentum after the break but they needed at least 10 minutes of second-half play before Samuels poached the ball from under the noses of the Free State pack at a breakdown and darted in for his second try.
Robert du Preez, who replaced Willemse just before the break, added the conversion 43-0.
Du Preez’s conversion brought up the half century a conversion after Coetzee grabbed a second try with several Free State defenders hanging on, just past the hour mark.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe, the substitute loosie, was next in after yet another strong WP scrum, and Du Preez made no mistake with the conversion.
Just when the fans thought Free State were going home with the bagel, substitute Daniel Maartens scored a try and Ernst Stapelberg goaled the conversion nine minutes from the end (57-0).
And they followed up that score with another, two minutes from the end with a Marnus van der Merwe try, which Stapelberg converted.
WP 57 – Tries: Ramone Samuels (2), Craig Barry, Jaco Coetzee (2), JD Schickerling, Huw Jones, Wilco Louw, Sikhumbuzo Notshe. Conversions: Damian Willemse (3), Robert du Preez (3).
Free State 14 – Tries: Daniel Maartens, Marnus van der Merwe. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (2).
African News Agency (ANA)/IOL
TOP PHOTO: Craig Barry scores a try on debut for Western Province on Saturday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix