A wet and slippery Newlands set the scene for Western Province’s final Currie Cup match in 2007. Province were still in with a chance at the play-offs — however, the team had to score 102 points to qualify.
Against Griquas this was always going to be an impossible task.
The first half was a dour affair with Province trying unsuccessfully to break through the Griquas defence on several occasions. However, two enterprising tries by flanker David Hendricks and another by winger Breyton Paulse gave WP a 10-0 lead at the half-time break.
With the kick-off for the second half, it was time for Griquas to fasten their seatbelts. They were in for a bumpy ride. Realising all hopes of reaching the play-offs were dashed, the hooped jerseys came out of the change rooms with one intention — playing adventurous and exciting rugby.
Their game plan paid dividends almost immediately with Province scoring from the kick-off through flanker Francois Louw.
Minutes later replacement hooker Schalk Brits scored a brilliant individual try. Brits received the ball 35m from the Griqua tryline. He broke the first line of defence and side-stepped two opponents who had rushed over in cover defence.
Not five minutes later, centre De Wet Barry scored his final try in a Western Province jersey. Barry received the ball standing flat, broke through the rush defence and scored close to the uprights.
Barry and veteran lock Selborne Boome were playing in their final matches for Western Province.
Following Barry’s try, Province coach Gary Gold put his replacements on to the field. The team lost some momentum, with Griquas fighting hard to stem the WP tide.
Sireli Naqelevuki, Province’s Fijian winger, scored the final try, and a spectacular effort it was too. Taking the ball 40m out from the Griqua tryline, Naqelevuki bumped off two Province defenders and ran in for a seemingly effortless try.
Griquas scored a consolation try in the dying seconds of the match.
Both teams have had an injury-ridden season. Province lost about 15 first-team players to injury during the year while Griquas themselves have had similar problems with injuries striking down key players. — Sapa