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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas qualified for their 2nd Vodacom Cup final in 3 years and will have to travel to Cape Town to face DHL Western Province next weekend.

It will be the 1st time ever that the Vodacom Cup Final is hosted in Cape Town, in what is only the 2nd time that DHL Western Province have advanced to the season decider.

On Saturday afternoon at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, DHL Western Province beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 10 / 6 in a scrappy encounter, putting themselves in the inside lane to win the Vodacom Cup for only the 2nd time.

They will face a Steval Pumas side that caused their 2nd upset in as many weeks though, when they dealt the Xerox Golden Lions their 1st defeat of the season at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Friday evening, deservedly winning by 43 / 20.

This victory means that the Lowvelders had knocked out the Vodacom Cup champions of 2013, the Xerox Golden Lions, and 2014, GWK Griquas, in the last fortnight. Next Saturday in Cape Town they will be looking to add the 2012 winners to this impressive list.

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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls will be facing the 2 unbeaten sides in the Vodacom Cup this year, the Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province, when the 4 remaining teams face off in the semi-finals this weekend.

Of these 4, it’s only the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013, that haven’t won the Vodacom Cup. The Lowvelders caused an upset last weekend when they eliminated the defending champions, GWK Griquas, in their quarter-final in Kimberley.

The Xerox Golden Lions last won the last of their 5 Vodacom Cup titles in 2013, the 3-time champion Vodacom Blue Bulls’ last success was in 2010 and DHL Western Province lifted the trophy for the 1st and only time in 2012.

There will be extra incentive for DHL Western Province when they host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the 2nd semi-final on Saturday afternoon as they will host the final the next weekend should they progress.

However, should the Capetonians lose their 1st match of the season, the highest-placed team from the North Section will host the final.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls hold the upper hand in knock-out contests between these traditional rivals – they won both (in 2010 by 17 / 6 in Pretoria and in 2009 by 36 / 16, also at home).

In fact, the last time DHL Western Province hosted the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup in Cape Town, was way back in 2001, with the visitors winning easily by 41 / 10.

In total, they’ve met 9 times with the Vodacom Blue Bulls winning 6 and DHL Western Province 3. The Capetonians won the last encounter between these sides, by 16 / 8 in Pretoria in 2011.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

The Cell C Sharks appear to be winning the battle to retain the services of Cape bred Pieter-Steph du Toit, who has told Durban media that he is committed to the union that he says gave him his big break in rugby.

It has been an open secret for a while now that the Springbok lock, currently out injured, was in negotiations with the DHL Stormers. Until quite recently the Western Province union appeared to be winning the battle, with informed sources confirming that Du Toit, who is from Swartland farming stock, was nearly certain to make the move down the coast next season.

However, it is understood that the Sharks then fought quite hard with counter-offers and promises that a concerted effort will be made to get the structures in Durban rugby right, and in an interview with the Natal Mercury on Monday the lock said that while he couldn’t say what would happen in the longer term, he was committed to the Sharks for now.

Du Toit has been out injured for most of the past 2 seasons and appears to feel beholden to the patience and resources that the Sharks have committed to his medical rehabilitation.

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Vodacom Cup3 Of the 4 Vodacom Cup semi-finalists are from the North Section after the Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Steval Pumas all won their quarter-final encounters this weekend.

The unbeaten DHL Western Province will be the South Section’s sole representative in the Top 4 next weekend after the Steval Pumas upset the defending champions, GWK Griquas, at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.

The visitors from the Lowveld won 28 / 14 and outscored the 5-time champions by 3 tries to 2 in a match that came alight in the 2nd half.

DHL Western Province, champions in 2012, beat the Leopards XV by 47 / 22 at City Park in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.

The Xerox Golden Lions were made to work extremely hard in their quarter-final against the SWD Eagles at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon, with the visitors from George scoring 3 tries to the 2013 champions’ 2, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

The 4th quarter-final was a rather 1-sided affair at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening, where the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat the Toyota Free State XV by 44 / 21, with William Small-Smith dotting down 3 times for the 3-time champions from Pretoria.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak has signed a 2-and-a-half-year deal with Western Province Rugby and will be available for selection from 1 July, once he has completed his current club commitments in France.

The 30-year-old will make the move back to South Africa from French giants, Toulouse; joining Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder and Godlen Masimla as the senior scrumhalf options for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province.

The quicksilver Vermaak has won 3 Test caps for the Springboks, making his debut against Italy on 8 June 2013, before also featuring against the Wallabies and the All Blacks later that season.

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Vodacom CupThe Top 3 teams in the North Section of the Vodacom Cup have all but secured their playoff spots, but the South Section is still wide open with only 2 rounds of pool action remaining.

2 Of the Xerox Golden Lions, Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls will host Quarter-Finals this year, with the 2 teams from Gauteng in the inside lane as they have 1 game in hand.

The Steval Pumas finished their pool obligations with a solid 28 / 22 win over the Hino Valke in Nelspruit on Friday evening and the Xerox Golden Lions trounced the Leopards XV by 63 / 10 in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

1 Of the Down Touch Griffons, who recorded a good 40 / 28 win over the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls in Welkom on Saturday, Leopards XV and Hino Valke will probably take the remaining place in the playoffs in their section, but mathematically the FNB Welwitschias and Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls can also still sneak in.

DHL Western Province, who beat GWK Griquas by 21 / 14 in a replay of the 2012 final in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon, are now the only unbeaten team left in the South Section.

The Toyota Free State XV and SWD Eagles both recorded good away victories this weekend, over the Border Bulldogs in East London (14 / 10) and the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth (31 / 10) respectively.

The teams from Bloemfontein and George are looking like the likely candidates to progress to the Quarter-Finals, although the Cell C Sharks’ big win over the Boland Cavaliers in Empangeni (52 / 12) means they can’t be written off yet.

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Vodacom CupThere were tries aplenty as the Vodacom Cup moved up a gear with the quarter-finals moving into sight for the 16 teams vying for the title.

In the South Section, the SWD Eagles probably delivered the biggest upset as they outplayed the Cell C Sharks XV in George on Friday evening, winning comfortably by 36 / 13 after a superb 2nd half performance where they scored 29 unanswered points.

GWK Griquas showed they will not let go of their title without a proper fight as they completely outclassed the Boland Cavaliers by 62 / 19 in Velddrif on Saturday afternoon, while the Toyota Free State XV beat the EP Kings by 50 / 45 in an extraordinary match in Bloemfontein where the scorers with still tied at 42 / 42 with only 5 minutes remaining on the clock.

DHL Western Province were predictably too strong for the Border Bulldogs as they cemented their position at the top of the South Section log with a 34 / 6 win on Saturday afternoon.

In the North Section, last weekend’s log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, enjoyed a BYE and was overtaken at the top of the standings by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, who beat the Down Touch Griffons by 40 / 21 in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.

The Steval Pumas’ 31 / 23 victory over the Leopards XV in Potchefstroom on Friday means the race to the top of the North Section log is now effectively between 3 teams.

The FNB Welwitschias recorded their 1st win of the season when they beat the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls by 24 / 17 in Windhoek on Saturday afternoon.

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Western Province back Pat Howard has reportedly signed a deal with English Premiership club Northampton Saints.

While the news is yet to be officially announced, it is reported that Howard will leave the Cape union later this year.

The 23-year-old Howard, who can play wing and centre, is contracted with WP until 31 October.

This means he will in all likelihood be asked to stay until the end of this year’s Currie Cup.

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Michael Rhodes

Michael Rhodes

Saracens are delighted to announce the signing of Michael Rhodes from the Stormers.

Michael Rhodes, the Stormers and Western Province forward, will join Saracens at the start of next season, adding South African power to the wolf pack.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “We have some time ago identified Michael as a player who could  make significant contribution to the squad, playing in the second row or the back row, carrying the ball and we are confident we can provide an environment where he will realise his full potential. We’re delighted he will be joining us next season.”

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to join the Stormers at the end of the season after 2 years with Toulouse.

The former Lions and Bulls scrumhalf joined the 4-time European champions in 2013, and featured regularly in his 1st season in the Top 14.

He has fallen down the pecking order this season however, with Sébastien Bezy and Jean-Marc Doussain both ahead of him, making just 2 starts so far.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

Long-serving DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has chosen not to extend his contract at Western Province Rugby and will, instead, take up an opportunity abroad at the end of this year.

Coetzee, 51, will join Japanese club, Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers, having decided to put pen to paper this week.

“I have always said that I would make an announcement once I had made a decision about my future and my decision has now been made and communicated properly,” said Coetzee on the official DHL Stormers website.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

Stormers and Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is in high demand to coach in the Japanese league, according to reports.

Coetzee, who still has one year left on his contract with WP, is believed to be a strong candidate to replace Gary Gold as coach of the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in Japan. Gold is set to leave the Steelers to take up the role of Sharks Director of Rugby.

Meanwhile, WP’s Vodacom Cup and Under 21 coach, John Dobson, is also believed to be on the wish list of the EP Kings, while there is also interest in Dobson’s backline coach, Dawie Snyman.

Gert Smal, WP’s Director of Rugby, said they would like to keep all current coaches at the union for the next three years and are busy with negotiations.

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dhl Newlands, Cape Town

dhl Newlands, Cape Town

A Special General Meeting of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) was held at DHL Newlands on Wednesday 17 December 2014 to give feedback and to discuss the investigation of the feasibility and desirability to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium.

The WPRFU are the owners of the DHL Newlands Rugby Stadium – in turn, the clubs are the stakeholders and owners of the Union – and a decision to remain at DHL Newlands was carried by the clubs on Wednesday 17 December 2014, unanimously and without abstention.

The decision to NOT further consider relocating to the Cape Town Stadium was based on a number of factors, the main considerations being the following:

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Paul Treu

Paul Treu

Former BlitzBokke and Kenya Sevens coach Paul Treu’s role at the Stormers and Western Province may be surprising given his Sevens background, but the departure of Jacques Nienaber has left a hole to be filled.

Treu, who had been coaching the Kenyan Sevens until the recent Port Elizabeth tournament, completed a rapid return to the world of 15-man-rugby when he joined Western Province on Monday.

The long-serving BlitzBokke coach signed up with the Cape side along with Rito Hlungwani and Hanyani Shimange as three big appointments by Director of Rugby Gert Smal ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Western Province also announced the loss of defensive coach Nienaber who joined the High Performance Department at SARU. This is where Treu stepped in.

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Hanyani Shimange

Hanyani Shimange

Paul Treu

Paul Treu

Western Province Rugby has announced some exciting additions to its coaching resources, with Paul Treu, Rito Hlungwani and Hanyani Shimange set to join, in various capacities, from 2015 onwards.

The signing of Treu, Hlungwani and Shimange will bolster the DHL Stormers and various DHL Western Province professional teams, whilst WP Rugby has also agreed to release Jacques Nienaber to further his career at national level.

Treu is a highly-regarded coach on the World Sevens circuit, having put South African Sevens on the map by guiding the Springbok Sevens side to the overall IRB Sevens World Series title in 2008/09 and recently also finishing a stint as coach of the national Kenyan Sevens team.

Treu, 43, coached the SA Sevens team between 2004 and 2013, leading them to an overall tally of 14 tournament wins and building a professional and structured squad set-up in the process. His presence will add a new and exciting dynamic to the settled DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coaching set-ups.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Western Province have brushed off reports linking lock Eben Etzebeth with a move to French giants Toulon.

French newspaper Var Matin reported over the weekend that the Springbok lock could join Toulon after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The 23-year-old Capetonian is seen as an ideal replacement for compatriot Bakkies Botha, who recently retired from international rugby and will leave Toulon at the end of the current European season.

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DHL WPThirty Craven Week players, five of whom played for the 2014 SA Schools team, and nine regular Under 19 First XV (or higher) captains from 2014 will form part of an exciting 2015 Western Province Rugby Institute intake.

With the WPRI already having produced the likes of DHL Stormers and / or Springbok stars Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh in recent seasons, there is plenty of excitement surrounding the announcement of the Class of 2015.

Five members of the 2014 SA Schools team – including captain and No 8 Jaco Coetzee – have chosen to join the WPRI in Stellenbosch, along with the 2013 Craven Week Player of the Year, Grant Hermanus, who featured for the cup-winning DHL Western Province Under 19 team in 2014, and another Paarl Gym star, lock Jaco Willemse (a WP representative in the 2014 SA Schools squad).

The 2015 WPRI squad is made of 75% local talent, with the likes of Coetzee (Glenwood), Michael Kumbirai (St Albans College), Eduard Zandberg (Outeniqua) and Eduan Keyter (Affies) – all members of the 2014 SA Schools team – joining from outside the boarders of the Western Cape.

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Western Province centre Pat Howard is set to join Munster Rugby on a three-month contract.

The 22-year-old will join the Irish club later in the month, subject to passing the normal medical procedures.

Howard made his Western Province Currie Cup debut against Free State Cheetahs in August 2012 and has made 11 appearances in the competition.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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Stephan Coetzee

Stephan Coetzee

Michael van der Spuy

Michael van der Spuy

Griquas have secured the services of two promising Western Province players for next season.

Centre Michael van der Spuy and hooker Stephan Coetzee – who both showed promise for WP this season – have signed with Griquas until the end of the 2015 season.

It will also be a boost for the men from Kimberley who recently lost the services of hooker Ryno Barnes (Free State) and centres Howards Mnisi (Lions) and Doppies la Grange (retirement).

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SaracensSaracens have named a powerful 23-man squad for the north-south clash against Western Province at Allianz Park on Sunday.

Alistair Hargreaves will lead the side, as Saracens face the recently crowned South African Currie Cup champions.

“Western Province are one of the strongest sides in South Africa, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall said.

“We will field our strongest possible side.”

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DHL WPA 24-man DHL Western Province squad will leave Cape Town for London on Thursday, as the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup champions get set to take on top English club Saracens in the Sanlam Private Investments Challenge this coming weekend.

DHL WP won their second ABSA Currie Cup title in three years less than two weeks ago and they are now preparing to face up to last season’s European Cup and Premiership runners-up on their home turf at Allianz Park in North London on Sunday.

Sixteen members of the victorious DHL WP matchday squad from two Saturdays ago will make the trip to take on Saracens, with new forward signings Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch and Wilco Louw joining the likes of Oli Kebble, Jurie van Vuuren, Dillyn Leyds, Pat Howard and EW Viljoen in the selection mix.

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Wilco Louw

Wilco Louw

DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers will be losing an entire, highly rated, front row but they already have an exciting replacement trio lined up.

The three front row forwards that have brought down the curtain on their careers in the Western Cape are Pat Cilliers and Brok Harris, who are heading abroad, and Tiaan Liebenberg who has retired from the game.

However, whilst three warhorses depart Cape Town, the Stormers had already announced the signing of powerful Bulls hooker Bongi Mbonambi earlier this year, with highly-rated SA Under-20 tighthead prop Wilco Louw also making the move down to the Cape from Pretoria ahead of next year.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr has realised his dream of becoming a Springbok after the No 8 was included in the year-end squad that will travel to the Northern Hemisphere.

His selection is warranted after being the stand-out player in the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign as well as being pivotal to the success of Western Province winning the Currie Cup.

An emotional Carr said he rushed to the television at 11.30 on Monday morning for the announcement of the squad and, when he saw he had cracked the nod in Heyneke Meyer’s year-end squad, he nearly jumped a hole in floor.

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Tiaan LiebenbergWestern Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has been forced to retire after being plagued by back injuries for some time now.

The 32-year-old will be returning to Bloemfontein to join up with his family and to get involved with the business.

The hooker was a mere spectator during Western Province’s 19-16 Currie Cup victory over the Lions on Saturday and although the veteran has reached some lofty heights in rugby, he was still sad not to be a part of it.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has kept the changes to a minimum for Saturday’s 2014 ABSA Currie Cup Final clash against the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).

In the only change to the starting XV that beat the Blue Bulls by 31-23 last weekend, fit-again centre Jaco Taute returns in the No 12 jersey to resume his partnership with skipper Juan de Jongh, who will be playing in his 50th match in the Blue & White hoops of DHL Western Province.

Michael van der Spuy reverts to the bench for Saturday’s final, where he is joined by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who comes into the matchday squad at the expense of prop Oli Kebble, who came off the bench last weekend.

No 8 Nizaam Carr, who left the field in the first half of last week’s semifinal, has been passed fit for the final, with coach Coetzee praising the consistency in selection during the business-end of the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann left his starting line-up unchanged and added Jacques van Rooyen on the substitutes bench for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup final against Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town.

The last time Western Province and the Lions met in a Currie Cup final was way back in 1986, when the hosts beat the then Transvaal 22-9 at Newlands.

Kick-off for Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).

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ABSA Currie CupABSA Currie Cup Final ticket sales was moving along swiftly ahead of Saturday’s 2014 final at Newlands, with just 1300 seating and 2000 standing room tickets available by close of business on Monday after public sales went live – online, at the box office and at selected PostNet outlets.

Season tickets are not valid for the Final Saturday, but season ticket holders had until 12:00 SA Time on Wednesday 22 October to purchase their seats for the Final which are being held by Western Province Rugby. Scholars’ season tickets are, however, valid for the Final.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

DHL Western Province’s injury concerns have improved ahead of their Currie Cup Final against the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Eighthman Nizaam Carr, who cried off with a hip injury midway through the first half of the Semi-Final clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls last Saturday was walking comfortably on Monday afternoon.

Centre / fullback Jaco Taute was running without discomfort after he was forced to miss the Semi-Final because of a rib injury and was tested in a contact session on Tuesday.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said it was pleasing to read the team’s latest medical report because the wider training squad had been given a clean bill of health.

“Nemo (Carr) is feeling much better and is walking with ease,” Coetzee said.

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ABSA Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Xerox Golden Lions in Cape Town in the ABSA Currie Cup final after the teams won their respective semifinals on Saturday to remain the last teams standing in the competition.

DHL Western Province defeated the Vodacom Blue Bulls 31-23 in a physical encounter in Cape Town, while the Xerox Golden Lions delivered a fine performance against the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg to register a convincing 50-20 victory.

DHL Western Province were quick on their feet throughout the clash and supported this with good decision-making on attack and a solid defensive effort. In stark contrast, the Vodacom Blue Bulls made mistakes at crucial times and missed three penalties, which cost them.

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DHL WPVodacom Blue BullsThe DHL Western Province Under 21 and Under 19 teams and their counterparts from the Vodacom Blue Bulls will contest Saturday’s ABSA Under 21 and ABSA Under 19 Provincial finals at DHL Newlands.

The Blue Bulls teams booked their trip by beating the Cell C Sharks 43-20 (Under 19) and Xerox Golden Lions 23-19 (Under 21) in their semi-finals played at Loftus Versfeld.

The WP Under 21 side had too much class for the Toyota Free State Under 21’s at DHL Newlands, winning 41-17, while the WP Under 19 side won 29-22 against the Free State Under 19’s in Bloemfontein.

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