WP snatched a dramatic 20-18 victory in Friday’s Vodacom Cup final to win their first title in 11 years.
Not since Western Province lifted the 2001 Currie Cup has a Cape side won a senior competition. WP left it until the last play to secure Friday’s result, but the manner of victory will not worry the Capetonians. The silverware will bring a small degree of relief to a union that’s had no success in terms of winning titles over the past decade.
Province may have come into this clash unbeaten, but they were the lesser side for much of the game. Griquas were dominant at the set pieces and collisions, and bossed territory and possession for the majority of the contest. It was all WP could do to hold on and prevent Griquas from running away with the game.
As the end approached, one couldn’t help but feel that the loser would bear the tag of choker. Griquas had dominated but missed several penalty attempts in the fourth quarter, and in retrospect just one of those penalties would have been enough to win the title.
Before the decisive score, WP had botched several scoring opportunities. Five metres out from their opponents’ line, they conceded scrum turnovers on two occasions. Captain Nick Fenton-Wells turned down a kickable penalty after 67 minutes, and the decision proved flawed as WP lost the subsequent lineout.
But for all of their failings, they never gave up. The Griquas defence was superb, and there seemed to be no way through. It required no small measure of patience for WP to wear Griquas down, and when the hosts finally relented, flanker Rohan Kitshoff was the man to crash over and level the scores.
It was still down to Demetri Catrakilis to win the game, as the conversion was by no means a sitter. The WP flyhalf slotted it coolly, giving WP their first ever win in this competition.