Western Province booked a spot in their first Currie Cup final since 2001 as they beat the Cheetahs 31-7 at Newlands on Saturday.
Western Province booked a spot in their first Currie Cup final since 2001 as they dominated from start to finish to beat the Cheetahs 31-7 at Newlands on Saturday.
Allister Coetzee's men will now face the Sharks, who beat the Bulls earlier on Saturday, in Durban in two weeks time to decide who will walk away with domestic honours.
In a match that was expected to be a tightly contested affair, the Cheetahs failed to get out of the starting blocks as Province thrilled their home fans with a fine display of all round rugby.
Nerves showed early on as the normally infallible Willem de Waal missed a penalty he usually would have slotted with his eyes closed in the fourth minute.
The Cheetahs have showed throughout the season that they aren't afraid to run the ball from anywhere on the field and a lovely passing movement saw them take play into the Western Province 22m before JD was penalised for not releasing in the tackle.
But a golden opportunity went abegging for the Cheetahs as Louis Strydom missed what should have been an easy kick.
Brian Habana has come in for criticism in recent weeks, but he produced a massive effort which will go a long way to silencing his doubters. The Springbok flyer found space down the wing in the 10th minute and sent a lovely pass inside to Jean de Villiers, who in turn tried to offload to an oncoming Juan de Jongh, but he was unable gather and the chance went.
The Cheetahs looked dangerous with ball in hand and a nice break by winger Philip Snyman saw him step a few defenders as the Cheetahs put pressure on the Province line, but some excellent defence by the team who have conceded the least points in this year's competition kept the visitors at bay.
Province put the first points on the board in the 20th minute when Adriaan Fondse won a turnover at the breakdown and Habana ripped the ball off him and ran 40metres unoppossed to score the first try of the game. De Waal made no mistake with conversion.
Habana should have scored his second try of the game in the 23rd minute as de Waal managed to regather his own kick after it was initially charged down, and he offloaded to Habana in space. However, Tewis de Bruyn rallied back to make an excellent cover tackle and Habana's attempted pass inside went astray.
The Cheetahs again failed to get some points on the board in the 32nd minute when Strydom pushed another penalty wide after Schalk Burger was penalised for not releasing the tackler following a good period of pressure from the visitors.
Ill-discipline then cost Naka Drotske's men as Hendo Scholtz tackled Habana without the ball after the whistle had gone to gift Province a penalty.
De Waal duly converted to give Province a 10-0 lead with 5 minutes of the first period to play.
Robert Ebersohn then gave away another penalty on the stroke of half-time and De Waal gave Province the perfect boost heading into the break as he slotted it from 55m out to take it to 13-0.
De Waal then stretched the lead further as he sent a penalty over from just inside the Cheetahs' half just shortly after the interval to make it 16-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Cheetahs in the 48th minute as slick passing from Western Province saw Burger find de Villiers with a fancy flick pass, although replays later showed it to be forward. The Bok centre moved it onto Louw on the wing and although he was brought down by Snyman, just short of the line, he got up to dive over in the corner to make it 21-0.
De Waal's fabulous evening with the boot continued as he extended his side's advantage to 24 points in the 56th minute when he sunk another penalty after Snyman caught De Jongh with a high tackle.
A miserable evening for the Cheetahs was summed up in the 63rd minute when centre Robert Ebersohn failed to take a pass from Meyer Bosman on the Province line as he knocked on.
Western Province then began their celebrations thee minutes later when Gio Aplon went over.Habana broke a tackle in midfield before chipping and recollecting and offloading to send Aplon in under the posts. De Waal made no mistake with the conversion to make it 31-0.
To their credit the Cheetahs never gave up and they finally managed to get some points on the board with four minutes to play as Snyman capitalised on a poor pass from Province substitute Lionel Cronje to run in under the uprights.
Strydom converted to take it to 31-7, but it proved too little too late for Naka Drotske's men as they just had no answer to a Province side who were in a rampant mood.
For Western Province:
Tries: Habana, Louw, Aplon
Cons: De Waal 2
Pens: De Waal 4
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Paul Bosch.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Philip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Corne Uys, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Tewis De Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Izak vd Westhuizen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tertius Carse, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Riaan Smit.
Referee: Mark Lawrence