Currie Cup

WP, Lions set for thrilling final

2014-10-19 21:46
Juan de Jongh (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - With the Golden Lions scoring six tries and Western Province three in their Currie Cup semi-final triumphs on Saturday, the title decider promises to be an entertaining one.

The teams last contested the domestic rugby showpiece 28 years ago with Province winning by 13 points against the then Transvaal at Newlands stadium in Cape Town.

Lions eliminated title-holders Sharks 50-20 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and Province overcame Blue Bulls 31-23 at Newlands a few hours later.

Province, who won at home and lost away to Lions in the league phase, host the final next Saturday because they topped the table.

Lions have produced the most exciting running rugby this season in the 122-year inter-provincial competition, the oldest in world rugby.

And spectators who flocked to sun-drenched Ellis Park were not disappointed as the home side scored three tries in each half.

Among those to cross the line for the Johannesburg outfit was flanker Jaco Kriel, whose nine tries is the highest total in the Cup this year.

Outstanding centre Howard Mnisi, scrum-half Ross Cronje, replacement hooker Armand van der Merwe, right-wing Ruan Combrinck and No.8 and skipper Warren Whiteley were the other try scorers.

Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, absent for much of the 10-round league through injury, contributed 20 points by kicking four conversions and four penalties.

Wing Lwazi Mvovo, No.8 and skipper Tera Mtembu and full-back SP Marais scored a try each for Sharks, Fred Zeilinga kicked a conversion and the man he replaced at fly-half, Lionel Cronje, slotted a penalty.

Although the Lions were ahead within 90 seconds and led 23-3 at half-time, they sealed success only six minutes from time when Boshoff kicked his final penalty.

That score gave the home side a 16-point cushion and as the Sharks faded, Combrinck and Whiteley claimed late converted tries.

"It was a fantastic effort and I am so proud of the boys," said Whiteley, whose consistently outstanding form earned him several Springbok call-ups this year.

"In every match there are periods when you apply pressure and periods when you are under pressure and I thought we were very calm when forced to defend."

Bulls had more first-half possession than Province yet trailed 25-10 at half-time in another match staged in perfect South African spring conditions.

The difference between the teams was diminutive Province full-back Cheslin Kolbe, whose two tries earned him the man-of-the-match award.

A turnover far from Bulls' try-line led to the first try with left-wing Seabelo Senatla bursting clear and No.8 Nizaam Carr providing the scoring pass.

A deft grubber kick by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis through a flat Bulls defence created the second with right-wing Kobus van Wyk delivering the pass that sent Kolbe in.

Prop Dean Greyling barged over at the end of the opening half to offer Bulls some hope and a couple of penalties from fly-half Jacques Louis Potgieter trimmed the gap to nine points.

But Catrakilis responded with a penalty and a drop goal before Bulls' replacement hooker Callie Visagie snatched a last-minute consolation try.

"We capitalised on the Bulls' mistakes and Cheslin (Kolbe) gave another great performance," said Province skipper and centre Juan de Jongh.


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