Johannesburg – Western Province coach Allister Coetzee heaped praise onto flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis for his starring role in his side’s 37-23 victory over the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
“I would name Demetri as the man of the match, two of his penalty conversions were from the corner and was important in the context of the match,” Coetzee said.
“His line kicks were unbelievable and on the attack he caught the Pumas off guard, while he had a hand in two of the tries.”
Catrakilis converted all four of Province’s tries and added three penalty goals to the scoreboard.
“He played the type of game where he gave direction, converted points and kept the team on the front foot,” Coetzee said.
The victory further cemented the coastal side’s position at the summit of the Currie Cup log with a nine-point cushion over their nearest rivals, the Golden Lions that were due to play the Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
With only two more matches left in the round-robin stage of the competition, Province is set to feature in their sixth consecutive semi-final.
It was the Pumas’ third consecutive defeat and their first at home suggesting a serious slump compared to the promising start they had made to the season.
The Mpumalanga side has moved out of the top-four the first time this year as they occupy fifth place on the log.
Pumas assistant coach MJ Mentz said although the defeat was a serious blow to their title ambitions, they could still make this year’s playoffs.
“It is a psychological setback but if we can get 10 points out of the two remaining matches, we might have a chance of making a semi-final,” Mentz said.
The pace-setting Province led by 14 points at the half-time courtesy of two converted tries and two Catrakilis penalty conversions.
Shortly after the break the visitors extended the lead to 21 points when wing Justin Geduld got over the whitewash.
The Pumas launched a spirited comeback to cut gap to seven points with two converted tries to Stefan Watermeyer and Justin van Staden.
However, two minutes before the end, Carr barged over for his second try of the evening to seal the result, while Catrakilis added the conversion.
Coetzee said it was no easy feat to beat the Pumas on home soil and they were made to work hard for the victory.
“The Pumas have beaten big sides here, they are a well-coached team with a good pack of forwards that also put pressure on with ball in hand,” he said.
The hosts that pride themselves at the set-pieces were lacking in this department on the night.
“Unfortunately the first two scrums were tightheads and it is not nice to start out that way and in the lineouts there were one or two incorrect calls,” Mentz said.
The Pumas host the Blue Bulls next week before travelling to Port Elizabeth for their final round-robin match, while Province take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the Sharks in Cape Town.