Western Province too powerful for Cheetahs in the rain

Western Province's Juarno Augustus during the 2018 SuperSport Rugby Challenge rugby match against Free State. Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Defending Currie Cup champions Western Province kicked their title-defence off on a positive note with a 32-0 win over the Free State Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday evening.

It was a battle of the forwards and the boot in torrential rain in Cape Town, which made for a quiet first 40 minutes with only one try before hosts took advantage of their dominance to score three unanswered tries in the second half.

The first half began on a sour note for Western Province as one of their young stars Juarno Augustus was shown a yellow card as early as the fifth minute after he tackled a player in the air.

SP Marais opened the scoring for the home team with a penalty just prior to the ten-minute mark and doubled the lead ten minutes later after the Cheetahs were penalised for being offsides.

The score looked as if it would remain unchanged at the break, but after an attacking line-out in the Cheetahs 22, Western Province scored the game's opening try on the stroke of half time through Bltizbok Ruhan Nel to take a 13-0 lead.

Western Province started the second period strongly as Juarno Augustus made-up for his first half yellow card as he showed his strength and power to get over the line to extend the hosts' lead.

In the pouring rain, Province turned to their forwards as a their main attacking weapons and it paid dividends as Skara Ntubeni dotted down from the back of a maul soon before JD Schickerling powered over from a pick and drive to secure the bonus point for Western Province.

The Cheetahs face an uphill battle in the race for the semifinals after two consecutive losses. They will hosts the Sharks in Bloemfontein next week as they look to get their campaign back on track.

Western Province will travel to Nelspruit next weekend to take on the Pumas, who had a bye.