Province were under pressure in the scrums and their younger, leaner pack generally came second to the more physically imposing and well-drilled Bulls unit.
But it was the interplay on attack that proved to be the difference in the end as WP enjoyed a number of thrilling passages of play with ball-in-hand and scored three tries to one.
When they did manage to hold on to the ball, there were some terrific offloads in the tackle as Province tried to maintain continuity and keep the ball alive.
In that regard, inside centre Daniel du Plessis – the son of former Springbok and WP star Michael – showed some classy touches with the ball. In a similar mould to his father, Daniel ran hard at the Bulls defence and often handed-off defenders, while he almost always got over the advantage line.
He also possesses an excellent pass, and provided some good width to the Province attack as he brought wings Sibahle Maxwane and JP Lewis regularly into the game.
Another junior star in No 8 Jacques Vermeulen also showcased his arrange of skills as he played a key link role on attack and got stuck into the physical stuff as well.
Du Plessis – whose cousin Jean-Luc, son of Carel, is starting at flyhalf for the Stormers against the Sunwolves later on Friday – rounded off an impressive performance by showing his strength to twist and turn his way through two tackles to score WP’s first try in the 12th minute.
A few minutes later the Streeptruie dotted down again when experienced outside centre Tim Whitehead – who is trying to resurrect his career in his old province after leaving the much-troubled Southern Kings – finished off with a lovely dummy after a flowing move where WP took the ball through several phases.
At 17-3 behind after 18 minutes, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon in the hot Newlands autumn sun for the Bulls, as WP scrumhalf Justin Phillips also kept the visitors’ forwards busy around the fringes with his quick darts and tap penalties.
But the pressure applied by a monstrous Bulls pack eventually told when they drove over from a five-metre lineout, with energetic loosehead prop Nqoba “Mox” Mxoli – who was part of the SA Under-20 last year – barrelling over.
Province went into halftime 20-16 ahead after flyhalves Brandon Thomson and Tony Jantjies exchanged further penalties, but the second half was punctuated with a plethora of handling errors as both teams struggled to finish off try-scoring chances.
A yellow card to replacement Bulls lock Le Roux Roets in the 60th minute helped WP keep the Pretoria side at bay. Province were held up twice over the line in the last 10 minutes, while fullback Grant Hermanus and replacement hooker Chad Solomon also lost the ball short or over the line.
There was time for one more dazzling run by Hermanus, though, as he carved up the Bulls defence and got to within 10 metres of the whitewash before replacement lock Meyer Swanepoel stormed over.
WP coach John Dobson will be relieved that his young outfit managed to get the four log points against a formidable Bulls line-up that included veteran fetcher flank Deon Stegmann – who is making his way back from injury – captain and No 8 Hanro Liebenberg and powerful wing Luther Obi.
Western Province – Tries: Daniel du Plessis, Tim Whitehead, Meyer Swanepoel. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (3). Penalties: Thomson (3).
Blue Bulls – Try: Nqoba Mxoli. Conversion: Tony Jantjies (1). Penalties: Jantjies (3).
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Original source: Du Plessis shines in WP win