Cape Town - Western Province were made to fight all the way for their hard-earned 19-13 win over Griquas in a Currie Cup clash at a chilly and wet Newlands on Friday evening.
WP were forced to make pre-match changes to their match-day squad after flank Rynhardt Elstadt picked up a shoulder injury at Thursday’s training session at Newlands.
WP under-21 skipper Rayn Smid was promoted from the substitutes’ bench into the run-on XV.
Despite the soggy underfoot conditions, WP ran the ball at every opportunity in the opening 20 minutes, but were thwarted short of the Griquas tryline.
WP Flyhalf Kurt Coleman slotted two penalties and Francois Brummer struck added one for the visitors, before Griquas scored against the run of play through Nico Scheepers' try, which he converted himself, after the WP defence were unable to gather a grubber kick.
The hosts' Gerhard van den Heever was yellow-carded six minutes ahead of the break by referee Lourens van der Merwe, who adjudged the winger to have thrown a punch as he was tackled by the Griquas defence.
WP tried to repair the damage by continuing to run hard with ball-in-hand, but were forced to retreat to the change rooms trailing 10-6.
The 14-man WP resumed play with an even greater sense of urgency when the second half got under way, regaining the lead by the 49th minute.
First Coleman fired over a penalty and then scrumhalf Nic Groom darted in for WP’s first try of the night.
Coleman’s conversion gave WP a 16-10 lead.
As the match approached the hour mark, the heavens opened at Newlands, ensuring a tight finish that would be contested by the forwards.
Griquas were awarded two penalties in quick succession in the WP area, but only succeeded with one goal, when fullback Gouws Prinsloo was on target and brought the visitors within three at 16-13.
WP responded with series of attacks in the Griquas’ 22-metre area.
With 12 minutes to go, Griquas' cover defence twice pushed WP out at the corner flags and held on to keep themselves in the game.
WP substitute flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis stroked over a penalty shortly before the final whistle to wrap-up the scoring, edging Griquas 19-13, to remain unbeaten in the competition.
Try: Nic Groom
Conversion: Kurt Coleman
Penalties: Kurt Coleman (3), Demetri Catrakilis
Try: Nico Scheepers
Conversion: Nico Scheepers
Penalties: Francois Brummer, Gouws Prinsloo