The DHL Western Province team completed a dream season in the inaugural SuperSport Rugby Challenge by beating a gutsy Tafel Lager Griquas 28-19 (28-0 halftime) in Cape Town on Sunday to become the first winners of the tournament.
The victory, their 11th in a row, delivered not only a handy R500 000 in prize money and a brand new trophy to the DHL Newlands trophy cabinet, but also secured that they remained unbeaten in the tournament, which saw 67 matches being played.
The final, played in front of a capacity crowd at Florida Park in Ravensmead, concluded what turned out to be a memorable first addition to the South African rugby landscape.
As the previous 66 matches, the final delivered another spectacle to an appreciative crowd, this time with the home side hitting the heavy turf of this community venue running. They scored four tries in the opening half hour of play as the visitors struggled to adapt to the heavy underfoot conditions.
Winger Bjorn Basson bagged the first for the home side after 15 minutes of play and a golden spell of three converted tries in the next 20 minutes all but secured the win for the home side.
Fellow winger Marcello Sampson scored a brace in that time, with Jurie van Vuuren also getting in on the action with a nicely taken try under the sticks, after some good interplay by his fellow forwards. At 28-0 at the break, the home side had the win all but in the bag.
Tafel Lager Griquas never stopped playing though and in the second half showed why they made it all the way to the final.
A yellow card after 53 minutes to WP lock JD Schickerling gave the visitors the edge they were looking for and after a number of attacks on the WP tryline, it was prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen who found the gap to score their opening try, converted by replacement-flyhalf, Andre Swarts.
A second try, this time by outside centre, Koch Marx, was another reward for the Kimberley side playing the numbers game and gave them more momentum into the last quarter of the match.
The visitors kept the DHL WP honest and making a game of it, with a late try to Tertius Kruger, again converted by Swarts, making it a nine point deficit.
That proved decisive though, as the Province defence held out to secure the win, but it was certainly the spectacular tries that kept the crowds coming back for more.
In all, 4327 points were scored, with 601 tries giving rugby supporters really value for their afternoons spent.
SuperSport Rugby Challenge Final:
DHL Western Province 28 (28), Tafel Lager Griquas 19 (0)
DHL WP – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Marcello Sampson (2), Jurie van Vuuren, Conversions: Kurt Coleman (4).
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Koch Marx, Tertius Kruger. Conversions: Andre Swarts (2).
Tournament stats and facts:
Shaun Reynolds (Xerox Golden Lions XV) 138
Oliver Zono (Border) 101
George Whitehead (87)
Frank Herne (Steval Pumas) 9
Enver Brandt (Tafel Lager Griquas) 9
Craig Barry (DHL Western Province) 8
Divan Nel (Boland) 16
Shaun Reynolds (Xerox Golden Lions XV) 44