Vodacom Western Province made heavy work of beating the Blue Bulls 15-12 in their Absa Currie Cup match at Newlands on Saturday.
Province, who led 6-3 at halftime in front of more than 47 000 people, retained their top position on the log and are still unbeaten after six games. They would, however, not be too happy with this performance.
They controlled the first half and created several points' scoring opportunities, but just couldn't convert them into points. WP, for some strange reason, deviated from their normal game plan that brought them so much success thus far, for a more adventurous approach.
They had four penalties within kicking range, but opted either to kick for position and then tried the rolling maul and in one instance they went for a scrum five metres from the Bulls try-line. The Bulls defence was staunch though and they had great success in stopping the much-vaunted rolling maul from WP.
WP had try-scoring opportunities too but were not clinical enough in their execution. The Bulls lifted the standard of their play in the second half and looked much more dangerous then before the break.
WP got the first points of the game after the Bulls defenders strayed offside and home flyhalf Willem de Waal made no mistake in handing his side the lead after only 3 minutes.
In the 13th minute De Waals metronomic boot ensured the big crowd of 45 000 people had more reason to cheer when the Bulls were penalised for illegal scrumming on their 22m line (6-0).
The Bulls got their first points when flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter slotted a penalty in the 17th minute after offside play by the home team.
They suffered a setback in the 19th when captain and hooker Gary Botha left the field injured and Bandise Maku replaced him. Province immediately went into attacking mode and had the Bulls defence in sixes and sevens, taking the ball through 10 phases.
Referee Marius Jonker award WP a penalty and also showed Bulls wing Gerhard van den Heever a yellow card for a high tackle on a WP backline player after interference from the touch judge.
WP kicked for position and tried a rolling maul from five metres out, but excellent defence from the Bulls prevented them from making any progress. They were awarded another penalty and used the same tactics, but this time they spread the ball wide once the maul was stopped.
A massive tackle from Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner on WP centre Paul Bosch prevented what looked like a certain try.
The Bulls drew level only one minute after halftime when WP were ruled offside and Potgieter added three points. The Bulls suffered another injury setback when Springbok flank Dewald Potgieter was helped off the field.
WP had a golden opportunity to score when wing Fabian Juries intercepted the ball but couldn't get away from Van den Heever. He cut inside and the ball went through a few more WP hands before a promising move came to a halt with a Juries knock-on.
WP got a penalty after offside play from the Bulls and this time they opted for points via the boot of De Waal (9-6). De Waal succeeded with a 45m attempt in the 58th min. to stretch the lead.
A Potgieter penalty ensured that the match was balanced on a knife's edge with 10 minutes to go. De Waal scored his 15th point in the 74th min to ensure the Bulls had to score twice if they wanted to win. Potgieter scored with a penalty in the 76th min. to heighten the drama.
The Bulls threw everything into attack but the WP defence was strong and they held on for a deserved victory.
Vodacom WP - Penalties: Willem de Waal (5).
Blue Bulls - Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (4)