It was another day of classy rugby action at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Tuesday as the U18 SA Rugby Craven Week launched into full swing with the teams that watched from the sidelines on Monday taking to the field in their first round of matches.
The SA Rugby Craven Week matches were competitive throughout the day with a few late tries alleviating the pressure on some of the sides.
The Western Province XV, Assupol Blue Bulls, their Assupol Blue Bulls XV counterparts, New Vaal Griquas and Thepa Trading Griffons would be pleased with their victories, which saw them kick off their campaigns on a strong note.
Griquas 35-24 Limpopo Blue Bulls
New Vaal Griquas survived a strong second-half fightback from Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls in a physical encounter to secure a 35-24 victory after leading 14-0 at halftime. In the end, the Kimberley outfit scored five tries to their Limpopo counterpart’s four, but their accurate goal-kicking, which saw them land all five conversions, allowed them to build up a comfortable lead on the scoreboard for a morale-boosting opening win.
Griquas: Tries: Madiba, Swartz, Windvogel, Fredericks, Maketlo. Conversions: Boshoff (2), du Plessis (3).
Limpopo Blue Bulls: Tries: du Toit, du Plessis, Cronje, Molebogeng. Conversions: Cronje (2).
Blue Bulls XV 32-21 Golden Lions XV
The Gauteng derby between the Assupol Blue Bulls XV and Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV proved to be a gripping affair as both teams threw everything at one another, but the Pretoria side did well to take advantage of their point-scoring chances for a 32-21 victory. Both sides tried to use their forwards to force their way onto the front foot and backed this up with enterprising play by their backs, which resulted in a tightly fought match until the end. The Assupol Blue Bulls XV’s five tries to three by their neighbours, however, sealed the win, with flyhalf Justin Cross making a valuable contribution with his try, two conversions and penalty goal. Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV flyhalf Seb Watney earned 11 points for his team, but even this could not help his team a win.
Blue Bulls XV: Tries: Ludwig, Cross, Oosthuizen, Botha, Valentine. Conversions: Cross (2). Penalty: Cross
Golden Lions XV: Tries: Uren, Watney, vd Spuy. Conversions: Watney (3).
EP Elephants 24-28 Griffons
In stark contrast, Thepa Trading Griffons kicked a last-minute penalty goal to edge EP Elephants 28-24 in a nail-biting clash. It was a physical affair as both teams’ forwards got stuck in, while the backs were solid in support. The Welkom side took a narrow 13-7 lead at the break, but Eastern Province fought back with intent, and they found themselves level on four tries in the dying minutes. Two penalty goals by the Thepa Trading Griffons to add to their conversion, however, cancelled out the Eastern Cape side’s two conversions.
EP Elephants: Tries: Malesu, Dupont, Muller, Hillary. Conversions: Liebenberg (2).
Griffons: Tries: Morabe, April, Smith, Heynes. Conversion: Roux. Penalties: Roux, Smith.
Blue Bulls 35-24 Border
The Assupol Blue Bulls overturned a 17-10 halftime deficit against Border in an entertaining clash to secure a 35-24 victory. The first stanza was a tight tussle with both sides relying on their forwards to give them the edge, but the Pretoria outfit’s strong second-half display, in which they stepped up the quality of their attack and ran hard on attack, nudged them into a convincing lead as they outscored the East London outfit six tries to four. Nsuku Baloyi (wing) made a valuable contribution as he touched down twice.
Blue Bulls: Tries: Roets, van Rensburg, Baloyi (2), Flusk, Kamffer. Conversion: Basson. Penalty: Basson.
Border: Tries: Goosen, Glover, Tyeda, Mapansela. Conversions: Day, Benge.
Golden Lions 14-18 Western Province XV
The DHL Western Province XV held on for a hard-fought 18-14 victory against the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions in a thrilling finale to the day’s action. Both sides threw everything at one another with their forwards and backs, but with the teams being closely matched on attack and defence, the game was always going to come down to the wire. Such was the closeness of the game, no points were scored in the second half. The teams each scored two tries, with the men from Johannesburg converting both, but it was a fine display by the Capetonians’ flyhalf, Kian Meadon, that earned his side the win as he scored a try, conversion, penalty goal and drop goal in a solid display of his skills.
Golden Lions: Tries: Tlome, van Wyk. Conversions: Raubenheimer (2).
Western Province XV: Tries: Meadon, Tshimanga. Conversions: Meadon. Penalties: Meadon. Drop Goal: Meadon.