SIMON BORCHARDT saw Dewaldt Duvenage score a late try to give Western Province a vital 15-10 win against the Sharks at Kings Park.
With three minutes remaining, it looked as if the Currie Cup was about to get its second consecutive draw. But Frederic Michalak’s ill-judged kick failed to get past the WP defence, with Duvenage booting the loose ball ahead and then picking it up to score.
The Sharks finished the game deep inside the Province 22, taking the ball through 20 phases before Stefan Terblanche kicked it away. But the referee was playing advantage and the hosts were given one last opportunity to win the game. Jean Deysel took the quick tap, but WP turned over possession soon after and booted the ball into the stands.
Province worked hard for their win, but a draw would perhaps have been the fairest result considering how poor this match was. Neither side got going and the second half was a real snoozefest, until Duvenage’s try.
Sharks coach John Plumtree sprung a couple of surprises before kick-off when he moved Deysel from flank to No 4 lock (with Werner Coetzee wearing the No 7 jersey) and Meyer Bosman from inside centre to flyhalf (with Marius Joubert at 12, Adi Jacobs at 13, and Michalak on the bench).
The hosts had all the ball in the opening 10 minutes and were rewarded with a try to Deysel after Lwazi Mvovo had gotten close.
Lionel Cronje missed his first two penalty attempts at goal and in between WP had a try ruled out by the TMO when replays showed that JJ Engelbrecht’s foot had gone into touch before he’d offloaded to Nick Fenton-Wells.
WP have been plagued by injury this season and they lost a 22nd player when fullback Heinrich Steyl appeared to break his ankle while being tackled by Mvovo.
The visitors, though, remained focused on the task at hand and levelled the scores on the half-hour mark when they turned down a kick at goal and took the ball through 10 phases before sending it wide to Danie Poolman, who cut back inside to score.
Cronje slotted the conversion but then missed a penalty after having to rush the kick because the ball had blown over. The swirling wind seemed to bother both kickers with Bosman also missing the target just before the break.
The third quarter was scoreless, but Duvenage broke the stalemate when his long-range penalty just cleared the crossbar. Both teams needed a spark – someone to break open the game – so it wasn’t surprising when Michalak’s entrance was followed shortly thereafter by Johann Sadie’s.
Michalak levelled the scores with a penalty on the 70-minute mark, only to make a crucial mistake at the end of the game that allowed WP to move back into the top four on the Currie Cup log.