Province scrape home against Griquas

Leading 22-15 at half-time, Western Province, in spite of trailing 25-22 for all of 22 minutes during the second half, squeezed home 30-25 in a closely fought Absa Currie Cup fixture played at Absa Park, Kimberley, on Saturday afternoon.

Scoring their match-winning and bonus-point-earning fourth try with 10 minutes remaining, Luke Watson’s determined team returned home with a full-house five points, while for the second successive weekend Griquas had to settle for a lone bonus point — this time for losing by less than seven points.

The real difference on the day between two well-matched teams was that Province, capitalising on a number of Griqua mistakes, turned opportunities into points.

Playing with the stiff south-west wind at their backs in the first-half, Province enjoyed all the early possession and led 3-0.

Six minutes into the match and with Griquas attacking wide, impressive Griqua fullback Zane Kirchner joined the line, threw a huge dummy and scampered through to score

With Griquas again attacking, flyhalf Conrad Barnard kicked the ball into the hands of man-of-the match, centre Peter Grant, who ran all of 60m to score an opportunistic converted try.

It remained 10-5 to the visitors until the 26th minute when poor defence by the home team saw flyhalf Naas Olivier slipping two tackles to score.

After pulling back three points via flyhalf Conrad Barnard’s well-struck 43m penalty into the wind, Griquas were again guilty of poor defence as eighth man Robbie Diack broke through from a line-out, gave the ball to Grant, who cut in from 30m to score at the posts.

Olivier added the conversion to his earlier second minute drop-goal and Province led 22-8.

With half-time approaching and with Zane Kirchner again joining the line, Griquas scored an important try when centre Barry Geel and eighth man Frans Viljoen combined well for Viljoen to go over. Barnard’s conversion reduced the visitors’ lead to just seven points (22-15 WP).

With Griquas playing with the wind in the second half and using it well through the boots of Barnard and Kirchner, there was all still to play for.

From a Griquas penalty, the home team closed to four points of the Province score and then in the 51st minute of the match, Griquas’ exciting centre Ronnie Cooke jinked his way through from 30m to score between the Province uprights. Barnard’s conversion saw Griquas now leading 25-22 and seemingly well on their way to achieving a rare Currie Cup win over their old rivals.

Though Griquas enjoyed the upper hand, they were unable to build on their three-point advantage..

Exchanges upfront were extremely hard and the crowd saw some exciting play from both teams.

Then with 10 minutes, remaining Griqua fullback Zane Kirchner fielded a kick just inside his half and attempted to land a monstrous drop goal.

Unfortunately for the home team, his kick was charged down, and centre Corne Uys was on hand to receive the loose ball and run 35m to score an unconverted try in the left-hand corner.

In a frenetic climax to the match, the Province defence held as Griquas ran the ball at every opportunity. Virtually on the final whistle, Peter Grant landed a penalty and Province had triumphed 30-25. — Sapa

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