WP jou leka ding! That chant reverberated through Newlands on Saturday as Vodacom Western Province clinched a home semifinal in the Absa Currie Cup by beating the Natal Sharks 33-21.
They will now host the Free State Cheetahs, who finished third on the final log, at Newlands on Saturday in the one semifinal. The Blue Bulls tackle the Natal Sharks, who finished top of the log, in the other semi in Durban.
Province, who led 20-7 at halftime, thoroughly deserved their victory. They completely outplayed the Sharks. This performance was in stark contrast to the league fixture in Durban, where the Sharks forwards subdued the WP pack to easily win the game.
On Saturday the Province pack was up to the task and they ensured a good attacking platform for their exciting backs.
The team created many try-scoring opportunities, but poor option-taking cost them at least three tries.
The four returning Springboks played a big part in the win, while players such as Francois Louw, Brok Harris, Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon emphasised their value to the team.
WP got the first points of the game when flyhalf Willem de Waal succeeded with an easy penalty kick. The penalty came as a result of a fantastic touchfinder from the flyhalf that took play up to 6m from the Sharks try-line.
The Sharks duly won the lineout and their forwards took the ball through three phases before scrumhalf Rory Kockott fumbled it and in the subsequent ruck they transgressed.
Fullback Gio Aplon to the great delight of the Newlands scored the first try of the match in the 15th minute after great attacking play by the home side. Scrumhalf Ricky Januarie took the perfect option by opting for the blind side, sending centre Jaque Fourie away.
The latter timed his pass to Aplon to perfection and the little winger had no trouble in beating the only Sharks defender left, flanker Michael Rhode. De Waal converted to make the score 10-0.
Wing Bryan Habana, one of Province's four returning Springboks, showed he was hungry for rugby with a scorching run from the kick-off.
The Sharks turned the ball over though after an exciting phase of attacking play by Province and it seemed if Lwazi Mvovo was on his way to the try-line, but a fantastic cover tackle from home No 8 Duane Vermeulen stopped him in his tracks.
De Waal extended the lead to 13-0 in the 19th min. with a well-taken penalty after offside play by the Sharks. Five minutes later the flyhalf failed with an attempt from 52m out.
The Sharks had the WP defence in disarray in the 30th and after a stab ahead from flyhalf André Pretorius Aplon beat Mvovo to the ball but he couldn't control it and No 8 Ryan Kankowski was at hand to claim the try.
Patrick Lambie converted to make the score 13-7 after 32 min.
Province had the crowd in raptures when Vermeulen dived over in the 40th min. after a magnificent line break from inside centre Juan de Jongh started an irresistible attacking movement. Wing Jean de Villiers sent the big No 8 over the try-line.
De Waal converted beautifully from the touchline to make the halftime score 20-7.
Province made their first substitution in the 48th min when JC Kritzinger replaced JD Moller at loosehead prop. The Sharks brought on Adi Jacobs at centre and Charl McLeoad took over from Kockott at scrumhalf.
Alistair Hargreaves also left the field two minutes later to be replaced by Steven Sykes at lock for the Sharks.
Province had the upper hand in the first part of the second half, but no points on the scoreboard as prove of it. They conjured up promising attacking movements, but mistakes at crucial moments cost them.
De Waal failed with a penalty attempt in the 55th min but made no mistake in the 56th to increase the lead to 23-7 after great work in a ruck by flank Francois Louw.
McLeod gave the Sharks supporters in the 45 000 strong crowd renewed hope when he finished off a blistering Shark attack in style, leaving four defenders in his wake. Lambie converted to make the score 23-14.
De Waal clinched the game with a penalty in the 68th min. to ensure Newlands will be packed to the rafters again on Saturday. Jean de Villiers put the cherry on top iwth a brilliant individual try after fending off Lambie and leaving Mvovo standing still.
Replacement flyhalf Lionel Cronjé converted to make the score a very convincing 33-14. The Sharks, however, fought back with a try by Jacobs and a conversion by Lambie, whose line break led to the try.
Vodacom WP - Tries: Gio Aplon, Duane Vermeulen, Jean de Villiers; Conversions; Willem de Waal (2), Lionel Cronjé; Penalties: Willem de Waal (4).
Natal Sharks - Tries: Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Adi Jacobs; Conversions: Patrick Lambie (3).