And then the unthinkable happened at Loftus on Friday night as Province beat the Blue Bulls……or was it?
In the week leading up to the final one thing that stood as a huge positive for the men from Cape Town was the fact that a lot of their players have been in the situation of playing in play-off matches and a few even won the Currie Cup as well.
The last dividing try that was eventually scored by Vermaak was exactly some in-experience that was showed when Bulls wing Travis Ismaiel ran out the ball close to his line which Kolbe took quickly.
Kolbe shocked the Bulls early in the second half as well with a brilliant individual try which showed his skill and speed to score the first try for his team and the match.
Province seemed in control the whole match and one had the feeling that the Blue Bulls played too much presentence rugby and never got to play the game that made them such an exciting team throughout this year.
Tian Schoeman also did not have a happy game and he never really had much control over the flow of his backline with his kicking game also way below his normal high standards.
As surprising the dominance in the game for Province was the surprise that the Blue Bulls did not really struggled in the scrums. One must mentioned the normal lottery that we are used to now from the referees this year.
The first half was dominated by the flyhalves with Tian Schoeman and Robert du Preez slotting thee penalties each for the Blue Bulls and WP respectively.
It appeared that the home side had the upper hand until they were reduced to 14 men after loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman was sent to the bin for a dangerous and high tackle on Kolbe.
From that moment on WP had the ascendancy, but a combination of resilient Bulls defence and ill-discipline meant that they couldn’t capitalise on the numerical advantage and the sides went into the break locked at 9-9.
The Bulls had a penalty with just 12 minutes to go in a kickable position, but they instead set up a lineout that they lost – a decision that would prove to hurt them.
Kolbe was at his best again in the moments that followed.
He kicked the ball through and Bulls wing Travis Ismaiel ran it into touch. Kolbe then ripped the ball out of Ismaiel’s hands and took the quick lineout and it went wide where substitute scrumalf Jano Vermaak scored in bizarre fashion.
Kurt Coleman’s conversion was good, and all of a sudden it was an eight-point game with eight minutes to play.
A late Schoeman penalty set up a nervy final five minutes for the visitors, but they held on to secure their spot in the Currie Cup final against either the Golden Lions or the Free State Cheetahs, who play on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Bulls will look back at this game thinking they were supposed to be in the final but maybe let the occasion got too big on the night.
Next week the final will either be at Emirates Park against the Lions or at Newlands against the Cheetahs depends who wins the second semi-final.
Blue Bulls 18 (9)
Penalties: Tian Schoeman (6)
Western Province 23 (9)
Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Jano Vermaak
Penalties: Robert du Preez (3)
Conversions: Du Preez, Kurt Coleman