Durban - Western Province were crowned champions in the under 19 competition sponsored by Absa on Saturday when they secured a well deserved 26-20 victory over the Blue Bulls in Durban.
The Cape Town based squad raced to a convincing 20-6 halftime lead and also showed great composure to stop the Bulls who could have snatched victory in the final minute of the match.
The Blue Bulls started well and were rewarded with two early penalties but fullback Pieter van der Walt slotted only one of the two to give the Pretoria side a 3-0 lead.
Through an impressive display on defence the Bulls held on to their lead to the 19th minute before Province flyhalf William van Wyk slotted a dropgoal which opened the scoring for the coastal side.
On more than one occasion Province were stopped inches from the try line and, as was the case when wing Siza Maseko was denied, the television match official was called into action on several occasions.
Province held on to the ball well and were the dominant side throughout the first half, but struggled to find their way through a solid Bulls defensive line.
Eventually – after the Bulls were reduced to 14 men when hooker Jacques Momberg was sin binned for a dangerous tackle – Province took the lead through a penalty by Van Wyk.
Soon thereafter cracks started appearing in the once solid defensive line and the try scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder scored, was just reward for the tremendous effort of the Province pack.
Van Wyk then added the extra two to give his side a 13-3 lead.
In staying true to the Bulls ethos, the Pretoria side quickly bounced back with a penalty that was awarded during a better passage of play.
However, they could not cross the try line and instead lost possession at crucial stages to hand momentum back to their opponents.
Minutes before the break Sharks hooker Siyabonga Ntumbeni barged over for his team’s second try which highlighted the sturdy work the number two did throughout the match.
At the start of the second half Province enjoyed a comfortable 20-6 lead, but unlike in the first 35 minutes -- only 70 minutes of normal playing time allocated in the under 19 format of the game -- the Bulls started looking after their own ball and raced over for two quick tries.
First skipper Arno Botha barged his way over the line and then replacement flank JJ Breet finished off an enterprising move which started inside on the Bulls’ 10 meter line.
Both tries were converted and suddenly the scores were tied at 20 a piece.
However, Van Wyk decided enough was enough and landed his second dropgoal in the 46th of the afternoon to recapture the lead.
With 13 minutes left on the clock the Bulls had an easy opportunity to level the scorers, but opted to go for the corner instead of kicking at goal.
The kick went over the dead-ball line and for the few Bulls supporters in the stands it was almost as if they were watching a replay of the semi-final loss their premier side suffered to the Sharks two weeks ago.
That blunder put the wind back in Province’s sails as they extended their lead to six points minutes later.
Province held out to the end and were deserved victors on the day.
Western Province 26(20): Tries – Ricky Schroeder, Siyabonga Ntubeni.
Conversions – William van Wyk (2) Penalties – Van Wyk (2) Dropgoals - Van Wyk (2)
Blue Bulls 20(6): Tries Arno Botha, JJ Breet, – Conversions - Pieter van der Walt (2) – Penalties – Van der Walt (2)