Western Province book semi spot
October 15, 2011
Jean de Villiers scored on his return for Western Province © Getty Images
Natal Sharks 53 - 9 Golden Lions Western Province 43 - 18 Pumas Free State 49 - 39 Griquas Blue Bulls 92 - 21 Leopards
Western Province cruised to a 43-18 victory over the Pumas on Saturday afternoon, thus booking their place in the semi-finals and an appointment with the Golden Lions.
The Blue Bulls' season is over, as a result, despite their rout of the Leopards, with Province having been able to call on their returning Springboks to good effect.
Less than a week after being dumped out of the Rugby World Cup by Australia last weekend, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Juan de Jongh all scored tries on their domestic returns. Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi and JJ Engelbrecht also profited, while the Pumas chimed in with two tries, to Jaco Bouwer and RW Kember.
Meanwhile, the Natal Sharks ensured that they will have home advantage in their semi-final showdown with the Cheetahs by routing the Golden Lions 53-9 at Kings Park on Saturday evening.
The reigning champions also had a number of Springboks back within their ranks, though it was former international Ryan Kankowski who proved the standout performer in Durban, the back-row helping himself to a brace of tries during a dynamic display.
Freddie Michalak also shone, though, the Frenchman contributing 23 points in total with a try, six conversions and two penalties. Willem Alberts, JP Pietersen, Jacques Botes and Stefan Terblanche also touched down for the Sharks, who restricted an overwhelmed Lions side to just three penalties from Burton Francis.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs ended their regular season campaign with a 49-39 victory over Griquas in Bloemfontein earlier in the day.
The win had temporarily moved Free State above the Sharks into second on the log after they weathered an early storm for the visitors. Riaan Viljoen's try and five points from Rudi Vogt gave Griquas the lead but they were overhauled by the break.
Cameron Jacobs got the Cheetahs on the board and openside flanker Pieter Labuschagne scored either side of the recess to cement their lead. Leon Karemaker bit back but tries to Adriaan Strauss and former Perpignan wing Philip Burger ensured the points before a late flurry by the Griquas eclipsed another home try, to replacement Werner Griesel. Dusty Noble, Sarel Pretorius and Steph Roberts all crossed in the dying moments, securing a consolation bonus point.
The Blue Bulls thrashed the Leopards 92-21 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday in a 14-try romp that had initially kept alive their slim hopes of a place in the semi-finals.
The Leopards showed some resilience in the latter stages of the first half to score three tries and trail the Bulls 21-35 after the hosts raced into a 21-0 lead. But after the break the ruthless Bulls ran through their opponents with ease, scoring nine tries in 40 minutes.
Springbok winger Bjorn Basson grabbed a hat-trick for the Bulls while CJ Stander and Juandre Kruger both grabbed two tries and Gary Botha barged over in his final game for the Bulls before joining Toulouse in France. Louis Fouche converted 11 of the tries. Hofmann Maritz, Joubert Engelbrecht and Wesley Dunlop touched down for the Leopards.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points