Cape Town - Western Province will host a first-ever Vodacom Cup final, after the men in blue and white hoops defeated the Blue Bulls 10-6 in a hard-fought semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.
A first-half try by man-of-the-match Sikhumbuzo Notshe and a conversion by flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, as well as an earlier penalty by the No 10, was enough to put the hosts into their second final in four seasons.
It was not easy, however, as the Bulls meant business on the day and the in-game weather conditions did not allow for an open match either.
Notshe and centre Jaco Taute made some promising runs for the hosts, who tried valiantly to run the ball wide in trying conditions underfoot.
Du Plessis, and inside centre Robert du Preez, who replaced him at pivot late in the second half when he limped off the field with what looked like a hand injury, used their three-quarters in the second half - despite the heavy underfoot conditions.
Taute, meanwhile, created excellent forward momentum for Western Province and asked constant questions of the Bulls’ first line of defence with a number of strong carries.
Before Saturday’s semi-final clash, the two teams had met nine times in this competition, with the Blue Bulls winning six games and Western Province three. WP won the last encounter between these sides 16-8 in Pretoria in 2011.
Western Province will take on the Pumas in next week’s final, the men from Nelspruit having beaten the Golden Lions by 43-20 in Friday evening’s first semi-final. (The final match details will be confirmed on Monday.)
WP won the Vodacom Cup for the first time - and, to date, only time - in 2012, under the coaching of John Dobson and Dawie Snyman. The duo, who are still in charge, will be looking to add to their trophy tally before taking over the reins of the Currie Cup side later this year.
Try: Sikhumbuzo Notshe
Conversion: Jean-Luc du Plessis
Penalty: Du Plessis
Penalties: Kobus Marais (2)
15 EW Viljoen, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Robert du Preez, 11 Tshotsho Mbovane, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Tapiwa Tsomondo, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Sti Sithole
Substitutes: 16 Charlton van Jaarsveld, 17 Deacon Chowles, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Justin Benn, 20 Justin Phillips, 21 Kyle Lombard, 22 Willy Ambaka
15 Akona Ndungane, 14 Jade Stigling, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Daniel Kriel, 11 Jamba Olengo, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 JP Smith, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Nardus van der Walt, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Nqubeko Zulu, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Arno van Wyk, 1 Basil Short
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Dayan van der Westhuisen, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Kefentse Mahlo, 21 Josh Stander, 22 Marquit September