RYAN VREDE watched Western Province comprehensively outplay the Bulls in their 42-6 win at Newlands.
The quality of the match was poor in parts, but this was understandable given the calibre of player on show – most of whom were Vodacom Cup standard. Certainly injuries and Springbok call ups were also mitigating factors.
But WP, vastly superior in every facet of play, won’t care. There were good signs on attack for a team that has struggled there, the bonus point secured before the final quarter. Their defence, however, remains the bedrock upon which they will build their success. Tonight they blunted the Bulls through an organised and brutal effort. They looked shaky under the high ball at times in the first half, but outside of that were rarely troubled.
The Bulls have big problems. Some of their players should have been playing club rugby this afternoon, not running out in front of a few thousand faithful in Cape Town. How coach Pine Pienaar fixes deeply rooted problems in the week ahead will be decisive.
WP started strongly, replacement scrumhalf Nic Groom (Dewaldt Duvenage was stretchered off with what looks a serious knee injury) sniping around the ruck fringe after a couple of phases. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis kicked the conversion to go with an earlier penalty, but Bulls pivot Louis Fouché responded with two three pointers to reduce the defict. That is as close as they would ever come.
The match laboured along until just before the break when a powerful rolling maul culminated in WP captain Deon Fourie crossing the whitewash. Catrakilis banked the extras to give his side a 17-6 half-time lead.
WP produced their best move of the game after the restart, depleting the Bulls’ defensive line through numerous phases before JP du Plessis offloaded brilliantly to set up Marcel Brache for the score. Catrakilis converted to give WP a lead that the Bulls never looked like overturning.
Damian de Allende ensured the five points, finishing a slick backline move and Du Plessis kept the scoreboard ticking for the hosts with a clinical score. WP settled for the mauling they had inflicted on their northern nemesis thereafter. They must build on this impressive performance as they go in search of a home semi-final.