Griquas remained unbeaten in the Currie Cup with a thrilling 33-32 victory over Western Province in Kimberley.
Two late scores earned the visitors a couple of bonus points, but deservedly the hosts won their fifth straight contest and extend their lead at the top of the log after another giant-killing act.
Willem de Waal was a late withdrawal and Province missed his kicking game as well as his ability to rack up points. Joe Pietersen missed an early penalty and this set the trend for what was a forgettable afternoon, while captain Luke Watson must also take the blame for not opting to take points at poles on two occasions.
The WP scrum dominated, but at the lineout the hosts stole ball on several occasions, and for this reason they often opted for the tactical use of the boot. Naas Olivier and Riaan Viljoen won the kicking duel, and Peter Grant and Pietersen had no retort.
Text book forward tries from either side opened the scoring. Griquas tighthead Ruaan Du Preez crashed over from a move off the back of the lineout, while the visitors used a similar tactic to open their account. Griquas collapsed a driving maul with the line beckoning and referee Craig Joubert had no other option but to award a penalty try.
Province had many opportunities in opposition half but too often simple handling mistakes let them down, with Watson guilty of losing the ball in contact twice in the opposition 22.
The hosts’ scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius dived over, a snap drop from Riaan Viljoen and a penalty from Naas Olivier meant they were up 20-10. Watson went some way to redeeming himself as he set-up Francois Louw’s try, but despite the late score, Griquas turned 20-17 up after playing into a strong breeze in the opening half.
WP had the opportunity to level the scores straight after the break, but Watson again declined the three points. After numerous phases on the attack, ironically Watson was also the person who turned over the ball, and Griquas breathed again.
Crucial errors broke the Province momentum on attack, and similarly Louw pilfered much ball on the ground. When the hosts did receive quality ball, they attacked the fragile midfield defence of WP centres Morgan Newman and Juan de Jongh, and profited via another Olivier penalty.
The visitors then also opted to try run from deep, another turnover was utilised well by Viljoen, who broke and sent wing Bjorn Basson over. At 30-17, Griquas relaxed and this sparked a frenetic climax.
Tonderai Chavhanga crossed, and when Du Preez was yellow carded, the hosts had to defend with 14 men for the final 10 minutes. Viljoen knocked over a massive 50m drop, but Pieter Louw’s try brought his side within a solitary point.
Province, as was the case for the entire match, had neither the poise or patience to cross for the winning try.
By Grant Ball