Wellington - The Regent Boland Cavaliers are the 2011 Currie Cup First Division champions after romping to a 43-12 (halftime 13-7) win over the Eastern Province Kings in a completely one-sided final played at Boland Stadium in Wellington on Friday afternoon.
The top two sides in the competition met at the same ground just a few weeks ago and on that occasion it was the Cavaliers who claimed a 49-15 win.
Finals rugby is supposed to be a completely different animal, but apart from a brief period in the first half when the visitors took the lead through an Andile Witbooi try, it was one-way traffic once more for the Cavaliers on a warm and blustery afternoon in the Winelands capital.
Witbooi's try, scored in the ninth minute, gave the Kings a 7-3 lead after an early penalty from Cavaliers flyhalf Elgar Watts had opened the scoring in what proved to be a rollicking affair played in front of a few thousand spectators.
The young Kings winger's try, scored in the right-hand corner, came as a result of a great break by stand-in skipper Falie Oelschig, the scrumhalf passing to galloping lock Wayne van Heerden.
Flyhalf Louis Strydom then showed all his experience when, like a skilful golfer using the wind to shape his shot, he hooked his touchline conversion into the north-westerly breeze and then watched it fade across the face of the posts and squeeze through the uprights.
Watts reduced the deficit to a single point on the half hour when he slotted a second penalty, a welcome score given that the Kings had been dominating the collisions and the Cavaliers had found themselves one man down following the yellow-carding of eighthman Zandré Jordaan after 20 minutes.
Particularly impressive carrying the ball up during this period was barnstorming Kings eighthman Jacques Engelbrecht, with tall fullback SP Marais a constant threat on the counter-attack.
However, the Kings inexplicably appeared to punch themselves out at around this point, allowing the Cavaliers to fight their way back into the game as the first half drew to a close, twice being held up over the line when centre Cornal Hendricks and Jordaan seemed certain to score.
GEM OF A TRY
The home side did eventually take the lead in injury time, Watts setting up a lineout from a penalty, from which abrasive hooker Clemen Lewis, a well-deserved man of the match, flopped over from the resulting driving maul.
The penalty proved to be a double whammy for the Kings, who lost centre Jaco Bekker to a yellow card in the process for slowing down the Cavaliers' ball as the hooter went.
The second half was barely seven minutes old when Watts increased the lead to nine points with his third penalty. Particularly impressive was the fact that the flyhalf, the competition's leading points-scorer by the proverbial country mile, had received a lengthy treatment for what looked like a painful shoulder injury before getting up and slotting the kick.
Thereafter followed a gem of a try to lock Ligtoring Landman right from the restart, with fullback Willie le Roux, as he has done all season, breaking beautifully down the left-hand touchline before passing unselfishly to a storming Landman.
Watts, as you would expect, nailed the acute-angled conversion to leave the Kings 16 points adrift with just half an hour left.
Still, there was no need to panic, and a penalty right in front in the 52nd minute might have reduced the deficit. Instead, Oelschig chose to tap and the opportunity was lost.
The Cavaliers made them pay, left wing Brendon April going over for his team's third try on the hour to put the matter beyond doubt -- and the Kings' problems compounded by the sin-binning of replacement Bobby Dyer in the build-up after a tip-tackle on Le Roux.
Danwel Demas, the former Bok Sevens winger who has twice in recent weeks scored four tries in a single match, then went over for a brace in the last eight minutes left to bring the house down once again.
"Well played, Boland. We don't even have a Bryce Lawrence to blame," quipped a good-natured Kings skipper Oelschig after the match.
Boland Cavaliers 43 - Tries: Clemen Lewis, Ligtoring Landman, Brendon April, Danwel Demas (2), Zandré Jordaan. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2). Penalties: Watts (3).
EP Kings 12 - Tries: Andile Witbooi, Bobby Dyer. Conversion: Louis Strydom.