Vodacom Western Province smashed the Valke 66-13 at Newlands on Saturday, after leading 42-6 at the break.
The result was further proof that a return to a 14-team Absa Currie Cup next year would be disastrous for the domestic game. If the Vodacom Cup champions have been slaughtered by bigger unions without their contracted Springboks, how can the likes of Border, EP and the Griffons hope to compete?
Province got off to the perfect start when the Valke failed to claim the kick-off and centre Sarel Potgieter scored after just 20 seconds.
Valke flyhalf Louis Strydom pulled three back with a penalty, but the visitors were reduced to 14 men when centre Hanno Coetzee was given a yellow card for a professional foul inside the red zone. A minute later, Fijian winger Sireli Naqelevuki scored to make it 14-3.
Strydom then kicked his second penalty, before the Valke blew a golden try-scoring opportunity. Having sucked in the Province defence by driving up the middle with their forwards, the Valke exploited the overlap out wide only for left wing Mpho Matsaung to knock on with an open tryline.
The Valke then self destructed when tighthead prop Philip Lemmer was shown a red card for a dangerous spear tackle on Corne Uys. Playing briefly against 13 men, Province put the penalty into touch, set up the driving maul from the line-out, from which Selborne Boome scored.
Not even an injury to Uys could disrupt the Province backline, with Naqelevuki slotting in seamlessly at centre and Egon Seconds coming on at wing.
Potgieter grabbed his second try when he collected Olivier’s chip kick over the Valke defence, before Luke Watson barged past three defenders to claim yet another five pointer.
However, the best try of the first half came a minute before the break, when Province counterattacked from inside their own half. Loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira claimed possession 25m out, wrong-footed the first defender by cutting back inside and then brushed off another two tackles to score. Olivier converted to make it 42-6 at half-time.
For all their first-half dominance, it took Province another 25 minutes to add to their tally, hooker Tiaan Liebenburg scoring on his WP debut from a line-out drive.
That seemed to spark the home side back into action.
A break down in the Valke midfield saw Province turn over possession and send the ball wide to Seconds, who cruised in for the five-pointer. A minute later, substitute winger Zhahier Ryland sprinted away for WP’s eight try after an intial break by Gio Aplon.
The Valke were finally rewarded for their improved second-half performance when replacement loose forward Michael Vermaak dotted down under the posts with five minutes remaining.
However, Potgieter grabbed his hat-trick just before the full-time hooter to round off a comprehensive thrashing.
WP - Tries: Sarel Potgieter (3), Sireli Naqelevuki, Selborne Boome, Luke Watson, Schalk Ferreira, Tiaan Liebenburg, Egon Seconds, Zhahier Ryland. Conversions: Naas Olivier (7), Gio Aplon.
Valke - Try: Michael Vermaak. Conversion: Louis Strydom. Penalties: Strydom (2).
By Simon Borchardt, at Newlands