A late try from fullback Craig Barry gave Western Province a dramatic 19-17 win against Free State in the unofficial Craven Week final.
Leading 17-14 at the end of the third quarter, Free State were reduced to 14 men when flank Oscar Llmani was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle.
WP then snatched victory with two minutes to go when Barry collected the ball on the halfway line. With no support, he chipped over the Free State defence, regathered the ball and scored in the right-hand corner.
It was Barry who scored the first points of the game when, with the wind at his back, he kicked a 25m drop goal. The Cheetahs then suffered a big setback when star hooker Bernard van Heerden hobbled off the field.
However, it was all Free State for the rest of the half as they ran in two converted tries through fullback Riaan Britz and flyhalf Johan Goosen. Britz finished off a good backline move, running the perfect angle to dissect the WP defence, while Goosen – who is only 16 years old – charged down Barry’s clearance kick and reclaimed possession.
Province flyhalf William van Wyk slotted a penalty just before half-time to make it 14-9, only for Goosen to add three points to Free State’s tally soon after the break.
Then came the WP fight back.
Flank Jody Reyneke capitalised on an untidy lineout when he drove over for WP’s first try. Van Wyk, who missed five shots at goal on the day, kicked the difficult conversion into the wind to make it 17-14.
That ensured a tension-filled finish to the game, with WP holding their nerve.
Meanwhile, the Lions finished Craven Week with a comprehensive 37-8 victory over SA Academy.
Wing Andries Oosthuizen, flyhalf Jacob Taute, centre Jared Meyer and flank Stephan Nel scored tries for the Lions with fullback Garth April converting all four tries and kicking three penalties. Flyhalf Kieran Goss kicked a penalty and scored a try for SA Academy.
Earlier in the morning, Namibia and Zimbabwe played to a 34-34 draw. Both teams played open, running rugby which resulted in nine tries.
Zimbabwe 34 Namibia 34
Boland 58 SA LSEN 5
Griquas 51 Border 0
Golden Lions 37 SA Academy 8
Griquas 40 Limpopo 34
Griffons 26 Valke 10
Blue Bulls 25 KwaZulu-Natal 22
Eastern Province 22 Leopards 18
South Western Districts 35 Eastern Province CD 34
Border 41 Pumas 14
Western Province 19 Free State 17
By Gareth Duncan