Scintillating action and the best provincial schoolboy rugby talent highlighted the opening day of the Under-13 SA Rugby Craven Week at High School Rob Ferreira in White River on Monday.
Numerous matches were fiercely competitive, with last minute scores determining the final results on five different occasions.
The Itec Griquas had too much in the tank for Old Mutual Zimbabwe in the second half of their match, winning 31-5. This free-flowing match was pretty tight till the break, where Itec Griquas held a 7-5 lead.
The second half almost became the Pieter Retief show as the Itec Griquas lock scored three tries on his own and was rampant with ball in hand. The Zim side had too many gaps to close and they conceded five tries in the end.
Another entertaining encounter happened between Itec Blue Bulls and EP Elephants, with the inland side prevailing 22-17. It is a see-saw affair throughout the match.
The Pretoria team scored three first half tries, two of those by prop Philip du Plessis, while EP dotted down twice.The second half saw a second Blue Bulls try to flanker Luann Olivier, while EP's centre, Marquin Domingo, got his second to keep his team in the game. The team in blue kept their composure on defence to seal the win.
The match-up between the Leopards and Border Country Districts proved a nail-biter and the crowd got value for their support. The Leopards won 19-14, mainly due to a solid first half buffer they managed to gain.
They scored two tries in the opening half for a 12-0 lead and then had to defend the Border comeback in the second. Border scored twice, but a try by Leopards centre Christiaan van der Bergh proved to be decisive.
The Free State Cheetahs scored a solid 27-7 win over Namibia, who will look at the scoreline aggrieved as it did not reflect their effort in the match. The Bloem side scored early and added a second soon after, before Namibia came back with a well-worked try by prop Nicholas van der Colf, converted by Waldre Kotze (centre).
The 12-7 lead at the break was a fair reflection of the half, the 22 unanswered points scored by the Bloem side in the second half, probably not. Credit to the Free State team, who finished off every scoring chance, with centre Rukudzo Madinga getting a brace and Man of the Match, flanker Carlyle Hawkins scoring a good try.
The Sharks had a strong first half against SWD and then extended their dominance into the second half to score a convincing 31-5 win. The Natal side scored five tries to one, a clear indication of the way they dominated most aspects of the game.
SWD did not help themselves with a yellow card to one of their forwards either, especially as the KZN pack proved a handful with lock Nkulukelo Kapotwe getting a brace.
The Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions scored the second biggest win of the day with their 57-7 win over Border. The Gauteng side had too much weight and size advantage on their side, while Border will be quizzing their defensive commitment in the match.
The Joburg team scored nine tries, with no 8 Jamaal Feldman getting a hat-trick and fullback Handre Maree a brace and dominated from the start, leading 38-0 at the break.
Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls will be keen to buy flyhalf Andrew Stopforth a milkshake tonight after he kicked a last play penalty to help his side to a dramatic 27-24 win over Boland.
The two well-matched sides entertained the crowd, with Boland's strong comeback in the second half almost giving them a win.
The Limpopo side had a strong start to the match, with no 8 Liam Santos in destructive form. The loose forward scored three tries in the match, two of them in the first half. Boland made a strong run in the second half, with two excellent runs by fullback Viaan Mentoor getting him a brace and his team back on even terms with minutes to play.
The Limpopo side kept their cool though and was on the right side of the field when awarded a penalty which Stopforth could kick to win the match.
DHL Western Province scored the biggest win of the day, putting 39 unanswered points past ITS Valke in the first half and then another 31 in the second for a 70-12 win.
The Cape side scored 12 tries and always had the upper hand in the match, which will be remembered by centre David Simon, as he scored four tries and kicked two conversions.
Winger Bena Ntumba also bagged three as the Cape backline totally outplayed their East Gauteng opponents.
Hosts Phakisa Pumas beat Thepa Trading Griffons 22-0 in the final match of the day. The home side had a slight edge over the visitors in using their try scoring opportunities and did use that to their advantage twice in each half. They had a 12-0 lead at the break and scored two more in the last 35 minutes of the match.
SA Rugby Under-13 Craven Week results:
Free State Cheetahs 27-7 Namibia
Itec Griquas 31-5 Old Mutual Zimbabwe
Leopards 19-14 Border Country Districts
Itec Blue Bulls 22-17 EP Elephants
Sharks 31-5 SWD
Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 57-7 Border
Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls 27-24 Boland
DHL Western Province 70-12 ITS Valke
Thepa Trading Griffons 0-22 Phakisa Pumas
Under-13 SA Rugby Craven Week fixtures for Tuesday, 25 June 2019
09h00: Border Country Districts v Old Mutual Zimbabwe
10h00: Border v Leopards
11h00: Thepa Trading Griffons v Namibia
12h00: Phakisa Pumas v Free State Cheetahs
13h00: Itec Griquas v ITS Valke
14h00: Itec Blue Bulls v SWD
15h00: Sharks v EP Elephants
16h00: Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions v Boland
17h00: DHL Western Province v Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls