Western Province’s redoubtable inside centre Huw Jones again, without seemingly much effort, rid himself of a Sharks’ marker to run in his second try. It was a dagger blow to a side that had made most of the running, not just in this game, but throughout the competition.
Western Province was bossed in the first half, despite the considerable grunt of tighthead prop Wilco Louw in the scrums and the midfield contributions of Robert du Preez and Jones, but the visitors gradually and inexorably found a way back.
Their stout defence and increased impact in the collisions in the second half helped render the Sharks scoreless in that period.
By the 60th minute, after the resourceful and robust Du Preez added another penalty, the visitors had shot out to a nine-point lead and the Sharks looked short of cohesion and answers.
So much had been made of the Du Preez family affair but by the 70th minute Robert, the Western Province flyhalf, was applying the finishing touches on a famous Western Province comeback.
By then his twin siblings in the opposing camp had departed the scene. Jean-Luc’s availability for the Springboks’ European tour looked in doubt when he was helped off the field in the 22nd minute with an ankle injury, while Dan departed the scene head bowed after he got a yellow card.
The Sharks looked to have won this match until they lost the plot on or around halftime. A try by Dillyn Leyds in the corner in the last open play act of the first half imbued the visitors with belief as they headed to the dressing room.
Soon the errors started to mount for the Sharks and even the normally cool Curwin Bosch started to look frazzled.
“I think the big difference was their game management,” said Sharks coach Robert du Preez in reflecting of how well his son Robert played for the opposition.
Pre-match pronouncements by Sharks prop Thomas du Toit helped bring more scrutiny to yesterday’s scrums and this time the trailer resulted in sheer box office.
The Western Province scrum with newly installed Springbok, Louw as its anchor proved a destructive force. “It was an area of focus for us but I didn’t think we’d be as dominant,” admitted Western Province coach John Dobson.
But the visitors, however, could not press home that advantage in the first half. In some instances, the Sharks even served the double whammy of advancing the scoreboard amid their backpedalling. In one such instance, the ball somehow found the hands of Bosch who effortlessly slotted a dropped goal from around 48m.
The sight of the ball sailing through the uprights would have been soul destroying to most forward units but Western Province’s big men drew inspiration.
“It felt like Groundhog Day from two weeks ago,” beamed Dobson. “We had to hang in there when they could have put us away”.- TimesLIVE