WP edge Cheetahs in thriller
Demetri Catrakilis (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein - Western Province secured their place amongst the front runners in the Currie Cup by beating the Free State Cheetahs 29-22 in the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cheetahs were caught unawares in the 3rd minute of the game with Western Province full back Gio Aplon kicking and chasing to score.
The Cheetahs made a mess of the kick-off and Aplon pounced on the ball for his side's first five pointer.
Flyhalf Demitri Catrakilis converted, leaving a shocked Cheetahs trailing early on.
The hosts regained some composure shortly after when winger Nico Scheepers slotted a penalt, before Western Province showcased some good attacking play and some good defence, with the Cheetahs struggling to get on the front foot.
Scheepers did however close the gap to one point when he kicked another penalty after Province infringed at the scrum.
The Cheetahs started to put attacking phases of play together, but struggled against a side that is widely regarded as one of the best defensive units in the competition.
The home side let themselves down with regards to discipline and Catrakilis stretched his side's lead to four points.
The hosts got their first try shortly thereafter, when scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius rounded off a quick break by flank Davon Raubenheimer, who off-loaded to Lappies Labuschagne.
The latter handed to Pretorius who dove over without a Province defender near enough to defend.
Scheepers converted to help give his side the lead.
Pretorius's try shifted the momentum somewhat in the Cheetahs favour and Scheepers kicked another penalty before half-time, before Catrakilis answered with one of his own to reduce the deficit to three points.
And again Scheepers retaliated to help the hosts to a lead of 19-13 at half-time.
The visitors produced some good attacking phases and managed to score the first points of the second half via the kicking boot of Catrakilis.
The WP pivot kicked two further penalties shortly thereafter to give his side the lead.
Scheepers drew the scores level again with 20 minutes left to play, but WP regrouped and scored their second five-pointer after centre Marcel Brache scored in the corner, with Catrakilis converting.
Points scorers: Western Province 29 (13): Tries: Gio Aplon, Marcel Brache. Conversions: Demitri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Catrakilis (5).
Free State Cheetahs 22 (19): Tries: Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Nico Scheepers. Penalties: Nico Scheepers (5).