Cape Town - Western Province were boosted by a few fresh faces as they recorded a 28-15 Vodacom Cup victory over the visiting Free State XV at City Park, Cape Town, on Saturday.With the trio of Gary van Aswegen, Kyle Lombard and Johnny Kotze missing there was a new look to the Western Province midfield.
Kurt Coleman, who had staked a claim the previous week with his strong showing as a second half replacement, started at flyhalf with Varsity Cup player Robert du Preez partnering Huw Jones in the midfield.
Both Du Preez and Jones were looking to make the step up to senior provincial rugby and show they could mix it up with the big boys.
For the visitors the big change was the one which saw Heinrich Brussow play at eightman in his first game back from his stint in Japan with the Docomo Red Hurricanes.
The big question was always going to be how his fitness would hold up after being side-lined for three months with a toe injury picked up in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Jones had a fantastic start to his debut and scored the first try of the match with Coleman unable to convert the five-pointer.
Flyhalf Riaan Smit got the Free State XV on the board with a penalty shortly thereafter. His halfback partner Renier Botha grabbed the lead when the scrumhalf went over for a try.
The successful conversion by Smit gave the Free State XV the lead at 10-5 going into the last period of the half.
Two penalties by Coleman saw the hosts go into the shed leading narrowly at 11-10.
Prop Kevin Stevens grabbed the lead back for his team when he barged over the tryline virtually just after the break.
With Smit crucially missing the conversion attempt the lead was only 15-11 for the visitors from Bloemfontein.
WP turned it on a few minutes later as Du Preez and winger Devon Williams both scored in quick succession.
Du Preez joined Jones as a try scoring debutant and Williams scored a try for the ninth time this season to seal the victory.
Coleman had converted both tries and further extended the lead with late penalty.
The win sees the Province guarantee themselves a place in the quarterfinals and the chance to finish second if they beat the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park in George next week.
Free State XV, also guaranteed of a place in the business end of the competition, return home to Bloemfontein and will look for a maximum haul against the Tusker Simba XV as they have an outside chance of finishing in the top two of the South Section.
Western Province – 28: Tries: Huw Jones, Robert du Preez, Devon Williams; Conversions: Kurt Coleman (2); Penalties: Coleman (3).
Free State XV: - 15: Tries: Renier Botha, Kevin Stevens; Conversion: Riaan Smit; Penalty: Smit.