Kolisi came through 47 minutes unscathed before being tactically replaced as a home team containing five Springboks in the starting XV – and another four Bok tourists sprinkled through the 23 – just had too much first half firepower and second half defensive resilience for a Phakisa Pumas that put up a gutsy, never-say-die showing.
They received little joy from an enthusiastic DHL Western Province defence, despite dominating the second half, and contributed to their own downfall with handling errors under pressure that led directly to two of Province’s tries.
Meanwhile, the home team restored their play-off hopes with a full house of points to leapfrog into third place – at least until Saturday’s fixture – with two matches remaining in another ding-dong conclusion to the regular season.
The Phakisa Pumas had the first word, rattling their hosts in sixth minute when centre Alwayno Visagie angled back on a short pass from hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg to sprint away from a bamboozled home defence to score under the crossbar.
Both teams forced defensive turnovers on their own five-metre lines to deny further scores until DHL Western Province scored the first of three tries in seven minutes to establish traditional superiority. From second phase after an attacking lineout on the left, the ball was moved through several pairs of hands to the opposite flank where the ever-deceptive Dillyn Leyds drew in two defenders before releasing Sergeal Petersen to squeeze over inside the corner flag in the 16th minute.
Three minutes later the home team thrillingly crossed in the same corner when the pace of two Springboks completed a 70-metre breakout. This time Petersen was the creator, handing off his wing opposite number, who had been half beaten by John Stander’s overhead pass. Petersen raced down the touchline before feeding inside to the loping No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe who sprinted the last 30 metres to dive over.
Josh Stander was wide with both conversion attempts but he slotted his third attempt from right in front. Seabelo Senatla gobbled up the attempted ‘chicken-wing’ pass of Pumas’ fly half Chris Smith to his own wing on halfway, to sprint in from half way without a Puma in sight.
There were rather more Phakisa Pumas crowding around the breakdown close to their own right-hand pole after a drive by Kolisi was stopped a metre short. But they could do nothing to stop scrumhalf Justin Philips scoring the home side’s fourth try as he grounded the ball against the padding and turf. Stander converted to put Province three scores clear at 24-7.
The Phakisa Pumas’ hopes of reversing the trend were again undone by their own handling errors as things went from bad to worse. From a potentially attacking scrum close to halfway, a misplaced pass from No 8 Jeandre Rudolph ricocheted off the shoulder of fullback Devon Williams into the hands of Province loosie Ernst van Ryhn who immediately released Senatla to dash in for his second try.
Province’s 31-7 interval lead was increased when Van Ryhn scored the first points of the second half although it took the home team 13 minutes to break down a determined Phakisa Pumas defence. Van Ryhn was successful where half a dozen previous attempts at the one-metre pick-up and drive attempts had failed. His try wide out on the left was converted by replacement flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis.
But there was to be no repeat of the first half try antics for Province as the Pumas dominated territory and possession and twice had ‘tries’ from wing Etienne Taljaard and beefy lock Le Roux Roots disallowed before Chris Smith got a deserved second try for the visitors with four minutes remaining.
Province though had the final word when former Blitzboks Senatla and Ruhan Nel combined from a back row move from a 15-metre scrum for the latter to score to the left of the poles for Du Plessis to convert.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Seabelo Senatla (2), Sergeal Petersen, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Justin Philips, Ernst van Ryhn, Ruhan Nel. Conversions: Josh Stander (3), Jean-Luc du Plessis (2).
Phakisa Pumas: Tries: Alwayno Visagie, Chris Smith. Conversions: Chris Smith (2).