Durban - Western Province showed their class in the final of the Absa under 21 rugby competition overpowering the Blue Bulls 43-32 in Durban on Saturday.
An outstanding individual performance by flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, who scored 28 of his team’s points, proved to be the deciding factor in the match which failed to live up to expectations.
Both sides scored four tries with the last two of the Bulls only a consolation as the match had already been clinched by the Cape Town squad.
Neither of the sides managed to play to their full potential during the first half as unforced errors and senseless kicking dominated proceedings.
Province raced to an early lead thanks to an outstanding kicking display by Van Aswegen who converted five penalties before the break.
The Bulls could only muster one penalty in reply and with their backs to the wall at 12-3, they caught up to the Cape Town side by scoring the first try of the match in the 29th minute.
The five-pointer eighthman Jono Ross scored came when the men from Pretoria managed to keep the ball through multiple phases while remaining patient in the build up.
Bulls flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converted and life was blown back into the contest as the Province relinquished the lead for the first time in the match.
The lead the Bulls enjoyed was, however, short-lived as Van Aswegen converted his fifth minutes later.
The breakdowns were as scrappy as most other facets in the game and the Bulls, in particular, failed to adapt to the referee’s interpretation at the crucial tackle area.
Trailing 15-13 at the break the Bulls came out guns blazing and regained the lead when they sent the ball wide to Super 14 wing Gerhard van den Heever.
This was the first time the speedster received the ball in the match.
Despite taking back the lead, the Bulls failed to build momentum and instead it was the Province squad that took charge of proceedings through outstanding work by players such as Nick Koster and hooker Sidney Tobias.
The men in hooped-jerseys then came close to scoring – from turnovers – on three occasions, but the Bulls managed to keep them out with their frantic scramble defence.
Province’s first try of the match came in the 51st minute of the match and was scored by the same player who had added all their previous points.
Van Aswegen stretched over to give his side a 22-18 lead and after his conversion the Bulls started to let go of their grip on the game.
After scrumhalf Louis Schreuder dived over for Province’s second try it was as if every player in the Province squad had renewed confidence in their abilities.
Even prop Allistair Vermaak showed a unique characteristic for a prop when he stepped past a defender.
What sealed the deal for Province was the first of two tries centre Johan Sadie scored in the final quarter of the match.
Province were always favourites to win this encounter, but the Bulls will be hugely disappointed in their poor execution during the second half of the match. Scorers:
Western Province 43(15): Tries – Gary van Aswegen, Louis Schreuder, Johan Sadie (2). Conversions – Van Aswegen (4). Penalties - Van Aswegen (5)
Blue Bulls 32(13): Tries – Jono Ross, Gerhard van den Heever (2), Sampie Mastriet. Conversions - Marnitz Boshoff (3). Penalties: Boshoff (2).