Durban - Western Province claimed a valuable bonus point win away from home, as they beat the Cell C Sharks by 37-27 in Absa Currie Cup action in Durban on Saturday.
It was WP’s fourth win from six starts this season, as the defending champions entrenched themselves in third place on the standings ahead of next week’s meeting with the Blue Bulls in Cape Town.
Flying winger Seabelo Senatla set his team on the way to glory with a try in the seventh minute, first-time starter Rob du Preez slotting a brilliant touchline conversion to make it 7-3 to the visitors.
Former WP star Joe Pietersen landed his second penalty goal shortly after, but a 13th minute Du Preez penalty extended Province’s lead once more to 10-6.
After a spell of aerial ping-pong, a third Pietersen penalty narrowed the scoreline to 10-9, before the hosts regained the lead through a strong finish by Andre Esterhuizen, Pietersen adding the conversion and a penalty on half-time to put the Sharks ahead by 17-10 at the break.
WP needed a strong start to the second half to rub out that seven-point deficit and they got what they wanted when Rynhardt Elstadt forced his way over from close range, Du Preez converting to make it 17-17 after 43 minutes.
Birthday boy Dillyn Leyds was the next try-scorer for Province (in the 57th minute), after some excellent interplay between forwards and backs, before replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi scored with his first touch of the ball less than five minutes later.
Mbonambi powered his way over after brilliant bit of interplay between Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Seabelo Senatla, with Du Preez again adding the extras to make it 31-20 – crucially, also securing the bonus point for the visitors.
Du Preez popped over another penalty to make it 34-20 with 23 minutes left, before the Sharks hit back with a try by Odwa Ndungane to keep them within seven points as the game entered the final quarter.
The Sharks, however, were not able to put together enough phases on attack to trouble the DHL WP defence and when replacement flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis landed a 78th minute penalty it gave his team more than enough breathing space as the Kings Park clock wound down.
It was a brilliant WP victory in the final analysis, with debutant starter Du Preez – a late replacement for Kurt Coleman – contributing 14 points and new skipper Nic Groom giving his young side plenty of direction from the base of the scrum.
Western Province will host the Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands next Friday kick-off 19:00.
Senatla, Elstadt, Leyds, Mbonambi
Du Preez 4
: Du Preez 2, Catrakilis
15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Wandile Mjekevu, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. S'bura Sithole, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Francois Kleinhans, 5. Marco Wentzel (captain), 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2. Monde Hadebe, 1. Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Dave McDuling, 19. Christiaan de Bruin, 20. Michael Claassens, 21. Heimar Williams, 22. Garth April
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Huw Jones, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Nic Groom (captain), 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Robert du Preez, 22. Kobus van Wyk