It was not the fairytale ending that the occasion demanded, but the 12 000 die-hards who decided to forego the opening match of the Soccer World Cup nevertheless left Newlands in good spirits after the World XV ran out 49-31 winners over Corne Krige’s Vodacom Western Province XV.
For the best part of the game, both teams threw caution to the wind and the result was a decent spectacle as 14 tries were scored on the night.
Krige’s Vodacom WP XV dominated the early exchanges and took the lead in the eighth minute when lively left wing Zhahier Ryland touched down in the corner. Flyhalf Braam van Straaten, who was called out of retirement to celebrate the occasion with Krige, rolled back the years to slot a brilliant conversion.
As the match progressed, however, it became increasingly obvious that the World XV had too much class in their ranks and were dominating physically.
They got themselves back into the game with a try from a rolling maul by loosehead prop Cristian Califano shortly after Ryland’s effort and once they took the lead with the exact same play there was a sense of inevitability among the crowd.
Not that they didn’t enjoy themselves as Ryland, fullback Gio Aplon and right wing Chumani Booi used their licence to thrill.
There were also some delightful touches by the likes of right wing Isa Nacewa and loose forward Sebastien Chabal, as well as a flawless goalkicking display by flyhalf Ludovic Mercier, for the World XV.
The biggest cheer of the night, however, was reserved for the entry of former Newlands favourite Bob Skinstad. Although he was powerless to affect a turnaround for the Vodacom WP XV, the match provided some bright moments and, most importantly, a treasured memory for Krige.
Vodacom WP Corne Krige XV: Tries: Left wing Zhahier Ryland (2), fullback Gio Aplon (2), replacement scrumhalf Paul Delport.
Conversion: Flyhalf Braam van Straaten, replacement flyhalf Peter Grant (2).
World XV: Tries: Loosehead prop Cristian Califano (2), lock Radike Samo, right wing Isa Nacewa (2), centre Joe Roff, replacement loose forward Sebastien Chabal.
Conversions: Flyhalf Ludovic Mercier (6), replacement flyhalf Carlos Spencer.