Province sweep Cheetahs aside
October 16, 2010
Gio Aplon dotted down during Western Province's impressive victory © Getty Images
Western Province moved to within one win of a first Currie Cup title in nine years with a commanding 31-7 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in a surprisingly one-sided semi-final encounter at Newlands on Saturday evening.
A fine breakaway try from Bryan Habana and two penalties from fly-half Willem de Waal helped the home side into a 13-0 half-time lead which they never looked like relinquishing. Province pulled further clear when Francois Louw forced his way over early in the second half and then put the outcome beyond all doubt when Gio Aplon dotted with just over ten minutes to play to render Philip Snyman's late try for the Cheetahs purely academic.
With the benefit of home advantage, Western Province went into the game as heavy favourites to prevail. However, there was a case to be made for the visitors, who had won in Cape Town during the regular season and also managed to upset the odds in reaching last year's final by defeating the Sharks in Durban.
However, the home side dominated from start to finish and would have been ahead as early as the fourth minute had de Waal not inexplicably missed a penalty from right in front of the posts. Still, the Cheetahs had been granted nothing more than a temporary stay of execution because Province's dominance finally yielded some points on 21 minutes when Adriaan Fondse forced a turnover at the breakdown before Springbok wing Habana exploded off the back of a ruck to race fully 60 metres for his first try in a blue and white jersey.
After de Waal had added the extras, Cheetahs No.10 Louis Strydom missed a gilt-edged opportunity to get his side off the mark when he failed to land a penalty attempt on 33 minutes.
With the visitors becoming increasingly deflated and frustrated, de Waal was presented with two kickable penalty attempts at the tail end of the half, both of which he accepted with aplomb to put 13 points between the sides at the break. Given how poorly the Free Staters had played in the opening period, that looked like an unassailable lead for Province - and so it proved.
De Waal added another penalty within three minutes of the restart and Louw effectively ended the game as a meaningful contest when he barged his way over at the second attempt after being momentarily pushed to the floor.
There was still over half an hour to play at that point but the Cheetahs already looked a beaten side. De Waal added another penalty before Province secured their place in the final on 68 minutes when a brilliant break from Habana ended with fellow winger Aplon scampering over.
Indeed, the home side's players had probably already allowed their thoughts to drift towards a mouth-watering match-up with the Sharks when Snyman scored an intercept try in the 75th minute which offered scant consolation to the visitors after a dismal display.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene