DHL Western Province claimed their first-ever Vodacom Cup title when they snatched a last-gasp 20-18 victory (halftime 10-13) over GWK Griquas in the final at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.
Griquas, who dominated the possession and territory stakes throughout the match, led 18-13 with time up on the stadium clock.
But waves of late Western Province assaults eventually saw the home team’s defences cave as flank Rohan Kitshoff went over for the try which levelled the score at 18-18.
Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis calmly slotted the conversion to break Griquas’ hearts on the stroke of fulltime.
For Western Province it was their first win in 15 years of the competition and also their first-ever final, while Griquas were left ruing the fact that they missed out of their fifth title.
Western Province never held the lead in the match until after the final whistle sounded but must be commended for hanging in there and remaining patient until the death.
Griquas got off to a flyer and, after forcing Western Province into some early handling errors, opened the scoring as early as the second minute when their powerfully built No 8 Leon Karemaker burst through a lineout to score midway out. Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff had no trouble with the conversion.
Boshoff increased the lead to 10-0 with a penalty 14 minutes later.
But the visitors hit straight back in the 19th minute as their backline employed slick hands to see right wing Danie Poolman over the tryline. Western Province flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis slotted the conversion.
Both sides played attacking rugby and probed each other’s defences. The game threatened to open up at times in the first half but both teams were unable to finish off.
Both flyhalves kicked a penalty each shortly before the break to see Griquas leading 13-10 at the changeover.
Catrakilis levelled matters shortly after the restart with a well-taken penalty. But the homeside moved back into the lead in the 48th minute when prop Janro van Niekerk crashed over after sustained pressure on the Western Province line.
Missed penalty attempts by Boshoff (3) and replacement fullback Rudi Vogt (2) cost Griquas dearly on the night as Kitshoff went on to snatch a victory for Western Province which had looked unlikely for most of the evening.
GWK Griquas – Tries: Leon Karemaker, Janro van Niekerk; Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff; Penalties: Boshoff (2).
DHL WP – Tries: Danie Poolman, Rohan Kitshoff; Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2); Penalties: Catrakilis (2).