March 16, 2001

Western Province certain to host final

Grant Shimmin - MWP

Western Province grabbed all four bowling points on offer in their last match of the Super Eight phase on Friday, ensuring they cannot possibly be stopped from hosting next week's final and grabbing a 49-run first innings lead.

Northerns did contribute indirectly to that, declaring at the fall of the ninth wicket - Greg Smith for 15 - on 267, with Pierre Joubert left unbeaten on 35.

In truth, though, the option of having a late dart at the visitors was a good one, although just 11 balls were possible, one more than in the Northerns first knock at the end of Thursday's play, and again no runs were made as the shadows lengthened.

The Northerns innings was built around another fine effort by teenage opener Jacques Rudolph, a man who played in the under-19 World Cup on home soil aged just 16.

Rudolph, who has two first-class centuries this season, took his aggregate for the Supersport Series to 638 before being caught at mid off by Neil Johnson off left-armer Charl Willoughby for 71. With one innings left in the competition, assuming the match is not marred by rain, the confident young left-hander needs 42 to give him an average of 40 in his first full first-class season.

Twenty of Rudolph's last 21 runs came from boundaries, giving him 12 fours in all, but aside from him, none of the other Northerns batsmen stuck around long enough to ever give them a chance of gaining a significant lead.

Debutant Alviro Pietersen made 30, with six fours, in adding 71 for the first wicket with Rudolph, stand-in skipper Martin van Jaarsveld got 23 and the vastly experienced Rudi Steyn 35, but none of them went on and it was left to Joubert, who made 96 in two innings against Eastern Province last week without being dismissed, to see the home side to a respectable total in tandem with the tailenders.