Middelburg - The Free State and Eastern Province have stamped their authority on the second day of the Under-18 Craven Week on Tuesday as they powered their way to victories in the big match-ups of the day.
The Free State registered an 33-20 victory against the Golden Lions in a thrilling finale to the day's play, while a successful conversion on the stroke of full time earned Eastern Province a narrow 26-25 victory against the Blue Bulls.
In the other matches, Griquas came close to matching the record for the highest score in history of the Under-18 Craven Week as they racked up a memorable 96-0 victory against Border CD, while the Leopards thumped Namibia 53-13 and the Valke defeated Boland 30-24.
The victories for Free State and Eastern Province threw their names into the hat for a possible place in the final match of the tournament on Saturday.
Griquas 96 (49) Border CD 0 (0)
Griquas thrashed Border CD 96-0 in a fine display of rugby, which brought the team within 10 points of breaking the record for the highest score in the history of the Coca-Cola Craven Week.
The highest score was set by Boland Academy who thrashed Transkei 105-5.
Griquas flyhalf Gert Nortje also came within two points of matching the record for the highest individual score in a match, with his 13 conversions and two tries earning him 36 points.
Griquas were in fantastic form as they ran riot on attack and starved Border CD of possession, which earned them a staggering 14 tries, while they did not concede a single point.
So dominant was their display, they built up a 49-0 lead at the break and maintained their tempo in the second half to finish the match four points short of scoring 100 points.
Griquas – Tries: Brandon De Melim, Daniello Huyster (2), Gert Nortje (2), Gloucester Hugo, JD Swanepoel (2), JP Abrahams (2), Keaton Gordon, Leon Becker (2), Rikus Swarts; Conversions: Gert Nortje (13)
Namibia 13 (6) Leopards 53 (15)
The Leopards worked their way onto the front foot early in their clash against Namibia as they did well to spot the gaps in the defence and capitalise on them.
This allowed them to score three first-half tries.
In reply Namibia managed to slot over only two penalties to trail 15-6 at the break.
The flood gates, however, opened for the Leopards in the second half as they hit their straps on attack and added five tries to their tally.
Namibia tried hard to hit back and they managed to score one try for these efforts, but with the team being forced into their own half for most of the match and having to defend for long periods, they battled to fight their way back into the game.
Namibia – Try: Armondo Van Wyk; Conversion: Pieter Willem Steenkamp; Penalties: Pieter Willem Steenkamp (2)
Leopards – Tries: Edmund Rheeder, Garann Kriek, Gerhardus Cornelius Steenekamp (2), Markus Coetzer (2), Stefan Van Vuuren, Thabang Lehlohonolo Sean Phatudi; Conversions: Markus Coetzer (5); Penalty: Markus Coetzer
Valke 30 (17) Boland 24 (14)
The clash between the Valke and Boland was close from the outset as the teams tried hard to make their presence felt.
With both teams boasting solid packs and quality backs, the teams found themselves neck-on-neck for most of the match.
Boland had the first say with an early try, but the Valke hit back with one of their own, which is a pattern that followed for the remainder of the match.
In the end, however, Boland outscored the Valke four tries to three, but three penalties by the Valke to add to their three converted tries handed them the edge on the scoreboard.
Valke – Tries: Jimmy Mpailane, Marco Jansen Van Vuren, Martin van Wyk; Conversions: Forrest Roos (3); Penalties: Forrest Roos (3)
Boland – Tries: Adriaan de Waal, Andre Gouws, Conal Brown, Earll Douwrie; Conversions: Ray Philander (3)
Blue Bulls 25 (16) Eastern Province 26 (6)
Eastern Province secured a gripping last-minute victory against the Blue Bulls in what was a titanic clash after staging a dramatic comeback from 16-6 down in the first half.
Both teams threw everything at each other with their powerful packs and hard-running backs.
Such was the closeness of the first half the Blue Bulls managed to cross the tryline in the 30th minute for the first try of the match, while the rest of the points were all scored compliments of penalties.
The Blue Bulls slotted over three and Eastern Province two, which handed the Pretoria team a 16-6 lead.
Eastern Province, however, fought back in the second half as they ran in two well-worked tries, the last of which was in the final minute, to cancel out the extra three penalties by Blue Bulls flyhalf Tinus de Beer.
This left the Port Elizabeth side trailing by one point before the conversion.
Eastern Province fullback Curwin Bosch, however, slotted over the kick with ease to secure the 26-25 victory.
Blue Bulls – Try: Ettiene Matthys; Conversion: Tinus de Beer; Penalties: Tinus de Beer (6).
Eastern Province – Tries: Athi Mayinje, Curwin Bosch; Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2); Penalties: Curwin Bosch (4).
Golden Lions 20 (10) Free State 33 (10)
The match between the Golden Lions and Free State was equally tense as both teams stood their ground on defence.
In the first half the teams were tied at 10-10 as they each scored only one forward-dominated try in the half.
With both sides defending well and opting for a mix of pick-and-goes and kicks behind the defence to gain an edge, most of the first half was played in between the 22m lines.
The Free State, however, did well to capitalise on their point-scoring chances in the second half and managed to power their way into the lead thanks to a try early into the second half followed by three more penalties by fullback Lourens Steenkamp.
The Lions struck back with a penalty and fantastic individual try to force their way back into the match.
But a late try by Cheetahs flank Victor Maruping three minutes before the final whistle sealed the victory for the Free State side.
Golden Lions – Tries: Armandt Johannes Paules Grobler, Gavin Lee Delport; Conversions: Wikus Van Biljon; Penalties: Ralton Navan October, Wikus Van Biljon
Free State – Tries: Alexander Jonker, Shirwin Cupido, Victor Maruping; Conversions: Lourens Steenkamp (3); Penalties: Lourens Steenkamp (4)
Craven Week Day 3 fixtures:
10:10 – Zimbabwe vs Griquas CD
11:30 – Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Border
12:50 – Griffons vs Eastern Province CD
14:10 – Pumas vs KwaZulu-Natal
15:30 – Western Province vs SWD