Golden Lions see off WP to win Currie Cup

Date published: October 24 2015

The Golden Lions finished their 2015 Currie Cup campaign off in style when they beat Western Province 32-24 in a thrilling final in Johannesburg on Saturday.

It was a superb all-round display from the home side which set up this victory and they outscored their opponents four tries to three with Marnitz Boshoff contributing 12 points via three conversions and two penalties.

The Lions' hero, however, was their scrum-half Ross Cronje, whose two tries in the first half kickstarted his side's charge to their first Currie Cup Final victory since 2011.

Although WP launched a brave fight-back during the second half, with full-back Cheslin Kolbe leading the resurgence, it was to no avail as the Lions' defence held firm during the game's closing stages.

The result means that the Lions are the first team since the Sharks in 1996 to win the Currie Cup with an unbeaten record and this is the 11th time that they have won the coveted gold cup.

The Lions made a nervy start when Boshoff missed a kickable penalty from in front of the uprights in the opening minutes and he was off-target with another shot at goal, shortly afterwards, albeit from a much further distance.

That didn't discourage the Lions though and they struck back shortly afterwards with a try from Warren Whiteley after Rohan Janse van Rensburg tore WP's defence to shreds with a fine break in the build-up.

Cronje then crossed for the first of his tries, five minutes later, when he ran onto a pass from Anthony Volmink, after the Lions had won a crucial turnover deep inside WP's 22.

Robert du Preez replied with a penalty for the visitors in the 26th minute but the Lions were still dominant and Cronje soon crossed for his second five-pointer after barging through a ruck close to WP's try-line.

Although Boshoff missed with the conversion attempt, WP were committing too may errors especially at the breakdowns and Boshoff extended his side's lead from the kicking tee in the 38th minute.

Du Preez recovered from a poor first-half performance when he broke through a gap on the Lions' five-metre line before crossing for WP's opening try shortly before half-time.

He added the extras which meant the Lions led 22-10 at the break. That score seemed crucial at the time but the home side struck back shortly after the restart when Janse van Rensburg crossed for his side's fourth try after shrugging off two challenges inside WP's 22.

WP were under the cosh but, to their credit, didn't surrender and by the 49th minute they had their second try on the scoreboard. Nizaam Carr rounded off after Kolbe initiated an attack close to the halfway line.

The men from the Cape were their own worst enemies though and continued to commit errors. Oli Kebble was penalised for a dangerous hit on Lourens Erasmus and Boshoff added the three-pointer from the kicking tee which made it 32-17 to the Lions with 20 minutes left to play.

WP upped the ante and narrowed the gap when Sikhumbuzo Notshe crossed over from a line-out drive deep inside the Lions' half in the 62nd minute.

Kurt Coleman added the extras which meant WP were trailing by eight points and enough time left on the clock to haul in the Lions.

A solid defensive effort from the home side kept them at bay, however, and WP's reign as champions ended on a low when Chris van Zyl was sent to the sin-bin shortly before full-time for not using his arms when charging in to a maul.

Man of the match: Cheslin Kolbe did his best to get WP back into the game with some fine counter-attacking runs, but Lions number nine Ross Cronje deserves special praise for a fine all-round display. Cronje's two tries gave his side the upper hand early on but he also kept WP on their toes with his sniping breaks around the fringes of the rucks and mauls.

Moment of the match: The try shortly after half-time by Rohan Janse van Rensburg proved pivotal in the grand scheme of things as it restored the Lions' dominance, after Robert du Preez had brought WP back into the contest with a five-pointer just before the interval.

Villain of the match: Nothing nasty to report

The scorers:

For Golden Lions:
Tries: Cronje 2, Whiteley, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Boshoff 3
Pens: Boshoff 2

For Western Province:
Tries: Du Preez, Carr, Notshe
Cons: Du Preez 2, Coleman
Pen: Du Preez
Yellow Card: Van Zyl (80th minute)

Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Malcom Marx, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen,19 Steph de Witt, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Stokkies Hanekom, 22 Sampie Mastriet.

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Chris van Zyl, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Huw Jones.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

By David Skippers