Cape Town - The Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week got off to a gripping start at the Markötter Sports Complex at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch on Monday with big wins dominating the opening day’s play in a fine spectacle of school rugby.
Boland registered the biggest victory of the day as they cruised to an emphatic 52-7 victory against the Limpopo Blue Bulls, while the Griffons defeated the Free State 41-27, and Namibia thumped Border CD 38-14.
Border also started off the competition on a high note as they secured a nail-biting 32-28 victory against the Pumas.
Hosts Western Province also had a strong start to the competition to the delight of the passionate home crowd at the jam-packed Markötter Sports Complex as they defeated the Blue Bulls 20-13 in a tense north-south derby thanks to five penalties by scrumhalf Jondre Williams and a solitary try by Nico Leonard.
The second round of matches will take place on Tuesday, with Griquas CD and Zimbabwe opening the day’s play at 09:00. In the main match-ups of the day KwaZulu-Natal will meet the Golden Lions and Eastern Province will go up against SWD Eagles.
Western Province 20 (17) Blue Bulls 13 (8)
The battle between Western Province and the Blue Bulls was physical as both teams used their big forwards in an attempt to stamp their authority. But with the teams closely matched on attack and defence they resorted to penalties early on to get onto the scoreboard, with the hosts slotting over two and the Blue Bulls one. The Blue Bulls took advantage of a lost lineout by hosts close to their tryline to score the first try in the Stedman Gans minute. This handed them an 8-6 lead. Western Province, however, hit back with their third penalty minutes later compliments of Jondre Williams to sneak into a 9-8 lead. They backed this up with a fantastic try by Nico Leonard after finding space out wide, and added their fourth penalty before halftime to take an encouraging 17-8 lead.
The hosts struck again early in the second half with another three-pointer to stretch their lead to 12 points and they continued to apply pressure on the Blue Bulls on attack, which resulted in them camping in the visitors half for most of the third quarter. The Pretoria side tried hard to retaliate, but the water-tight Province defence denied them from getting close to the tryline for several minutes. The Bulls determination eventually paid off on the stroke of fulltime as centre Louis Van der Schyff snuck through a gap in the defence in the last minute to reduce the deficit to 20-13, but this was a case of too little too late for the Pretoria side.
Western Province - Try: Nico Leonard. Penalties: Jondre Williams (5).
Blue Bulls - Tries: Louis Van der Schyff, Stedman Gans. Conversion: Andell Loubser.
Free State 27 (15) Griffons 41 (19)
The clash between the Free State and Griffons was hard-fought as the teams tried to use their physical forwards to force their way onto the front foot. The Free State came out firing and crossed the tryline in the sixth minute to open up the scoring. But the rest of the half proved to be a ding-dong battle, with the Griffons breaking through for three tries, while the Free State only added one more in the half. This handed the Griffons a narrow 19-15 lead at the break.
The Griffons broke away on the scoreboard in the second half as they powered their way over the advantage line with the likes of flank Johan Steyn leading from the front, and they used their effective support play to make their way through the gaps in the defence. The team was particularly effective at drawing the defence and off-loading to their support runners, which allowed them to add three tries in the second half, while the Free State were only able to score two tries and two penalties, which left them trailing 41-27.
Free State - Tries: Dian Schoonees, Siyabonga Luwaca, Jabo Mtshatsheni (2). Conversions: Christiaan Schutte (2). Penalty: Christiaan Schutte.
Griffons - Tries: Richman Gora, Marco Labuschagne, Christiaan Steyn, Gift Dlamini, Siya Ngxesha (2). Conversions: Luan James (4). Penalty: Luan James.
Pumas 28 (15) - Border 32 (15)
Pumas and Border were involved in a tight tussle from the outset with both teams putting their bodies on the line on attack and defence. Such was the closeness of the clash, the teams entered the break at 15-15 after each side crossed the tryline twice and slotted over a penalty.
The Pumas had the first say after the break as they slotted over a penalty, but Border hit back with intent with back-to-back tries. The Pumas, however, forced their way back with their third try and another penalty. But Border fought until the end and added another try, to take their tally for the match the five, which earned them a narrow 32-28 victory.
Pumas - Tries: Mlondi Mnisi, Cyprian Nkomo, JC Pretorius. Conversions: Wessel Muller (2). Penalties: Wessel Muller.
Border - Tries: Daniel Froneman, Thaki Boloko, David Brits, Heinrich Nieuwenhuizen (2). Conversions: Josh Allderman (2). Penalty: Josh Allderman.
Boland 52 (17) Limpopo Blue Bulls 7 (0)
The opening exchanges between Boland and the Limpopo Blue Bulls were intense as both teams tried hard to gain ascendancy, which resulted in the teams remaining scoreless for most of the first half. Boland, however, found their rhythm on attack midway in the second quarter thanks to a fantastic effort by flyhalf Adriaan van der Bank, who dictated play well. This allowed them to spread the ball wide and stretch the defence, which paid off as they touched down three times for a 17-0 halftime lead.
They continued to move the ball around after the break and the Limpopo Blue Bulls struggled to shut them out, which allowed them to run in another three back-to-back tries. The Limpopo Blue Bulls hit back with a converted try in the 62nd minute, but this proved to be their only points of the match. Boland, meanwhile, were unstoppable on attack and added another two tries before the final whistle to take their try tally for the match to eight. Two of their tries were scored by Van der Bank, while he added six conversions for an individual contribution of 22 points.
Boland - Tries: Adriaan van der Bank (2), Barend van der Westhuizen, Earll Douwrie, Jacobus Abel, Rick Jordaan, Erik Groenewald (2). Conversions: Adriaan van der Bank (6).
Limpopo Blue Bulls - Try: Sibusiso Mlangeni. Conversion: Wernich Kachelhoffer.
Namibia 38 (14) Border CD 14 (7)
The first half between Namibia and Border CD was tight as the teams threw everything at one another. Namibia, however, made their presence felt early on with a try by Brandon Groenewald in the seventh minute to take a 7-0 lead. Border CD hit back with a try in the 20th minute, but this was cancelled out by Namibia’s second try of the half shortly before the break to take a 14-7 lead.
Border struck first after the break with their second converted try, but Namibia strung together phases on attack and applied pressure, which earned them an impressive four tries in 20 minutes. This took their try tally for the match to six, while Border CD were unable to add to their score. This earned Namibia a convincing 38-14 victory.
Namibia - Tries: Tristan Mouton, Brandon Groenewald, Chad Plato (2), Tobie Van Zyl (2). Conversions: Cliven Loubser (4).
Border CD - Tries: Josh Armstrong, Migcobo Bovu. Conversions: Alrich Plaatjies (2).
Under-18 Craven Week Day 1 results:
Western Province 20 - 13 Blue Bulls
Free State 27 - 41 Griffons
Pumas 28 - 32 Border
Boland 52 - 7 Limpopo Blue Bulls
Namibia 38 - 14 Border CD
Under-18 Craven Week day-two fixtures, July 14:
09:00 - Griquas CD v Zimbabwe
10:30 - Valke v Eastern Province CD
12:00 - Leopards v Griquas
13:30 - KwaZulu-Natal v Golden Lions
15:00 - Eastern Province v SWD Eagles