As the scoreline would suggest, WP were the dominant side throughout, and there was never going to be any other team in the race once Province had taken the game by the scruff by going 13-0 up after 11 minutes.
WP scored eight converted tries to one by the Pumas and in so doing they grabbed the bonus point victory that ensures that they will end the weekend in second position on the log regardless of what happens in matches due to be contested on Saturday.
And the way WP played on Friday night, you shouldn’t wager too much hard earned cash against Province retaining their position in the top two or even catching the top team, the Sharks, in the closing weeks of the league stages. Certainly the magnitude of the win and the quality of the performance should give the Cape team plenty of confidence for the tough three match sequence of matches that awaits them against Griquas (home), the Bulls (away) and Sharks (home).
WP had regained some of their last confidence with their win over the Leopards last week, a result that broke a three match losing sequence, but this match was a significant step up for Province as they swarmed all over a team that has proved difficult against other top opposition at their home venues of Witbank and Nelspruit.
After the Leopards game there was much talk of the way the pack dominated the headlines. The big men were in superb form again, the driving maul again an almost unstoppable force and the lineout forwards, with the skipper in the forefront, putting the Pumas under massive pressure on their own ball.
What was different this time though was that the backs were equally impressive and as effective, with the combinations gelling where they may have stuttered just a small bit seven days ago.
Willem de Waal has been criticised for taking the ball deep, but with Jean de Villiers there to crash the ball up so strongly in the early minutes, this was hardly a factor. De Villiers might not have been happy with the way he coughed up the ball twice in the first half when WP were in strong attacking positions, but he and Juan de Jongh formed an excellent combination in midfield and dominated their opponents.
Although De Jongh was replaced by Paul Bosch in the 68th minute it was not before he had tormented and terrorised the Pumas defence. The Springbok broke through a couple of tacklers almost every time he touched the ball in the second half.
Fellow Bok Gio Aplon was not far behind, while young under-21 star JJ Engelbrecht scored the first try and help create the bonus point try, which came six minutes into the second half courtesy of a masterful long range counter-attack in which Engelbrecht’s run down the right drew in enough defenders to make the eventual try to Aplon on the left an inevitability.
Talking of Engelbrecht, another under-21 player, flyhalf Gary van Aswegan, came on to replace De Waal late in the game and showed enough neat little touches to confirm that WP’s future is in good hands.
The Engelbrecht try try came courtesy of a sharp and incisive backline sweep off a recycle which saw Conrad Jantjes come in as the dummy runner to create the space which the strong running Engelbrecht was able to exploit.
Even though it was the first try of the match and came after 11 minutes of play, WP were already well in control as they swarmed all over the Pumas, giving them hardly any opportunity to breathe as they comprehensively snuffed out any thoughts the home side may have harboured of pulling off another upset win like the one scored against the Bulls in Nelspruit three weeks ago.
De Villiers was the next to score as he cut back on a Dewaldt Duvenage pass just metres from the Pumas line after a long period of sustained pressure from Province, and De Villiers, by successfully contesting and winning back a kick ahead, featured again as the spark of the try that De Jongh rounded off with a neat bit of stepping near the Pumas line.
The bonus point try came six minutes into the second half, but that was not a signal for WP to let up as they continued to pummel a Pumas team that was forced to make significantly more than twice as many tackles as the visitors did on a night when they were completely dominated in the battle for possession.
WP – Tries: JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Gio Aplon 2, Francois Louw 2 and Juan de Jongh; Conversions: Willem de Waal 5 and Gary van Aswegan 3. Pumas 10 – Try: Elgar Watts; Conversion: Elgar Watts; Penalty: Elgar Watts.