Cape Town - A total of 257 points and 40 tries were scored as the Under-15 Iqhawe Week got off to an action-packed start at the Bill Jardine Stadium in Johannesburg on Monday, with a mixture of big wins and close encounters contributing to a thrilling day’s play.
Boland, Free State and the Pumas scored the biggest victories of the day, during which seven matches were played.
The week was established in 2013 and is a joint venture between SA Rugby and the SA Rugby Legends Association. The tournament offers players from rural, lower-league and non-traditional rugby schools an opportunity to participate in a high-level provincial competition with the objective of creating a pathway for them to advance through SA’s rugby structures.
Boland ran circles around Eastern Province thanks to their fast and skilful backs with the team from the Western Cape cruising to a comprehensive 40-5 victory. The boys from Wellington scored two converted tries in the first half for a 14-0 lead, but the flood gates opened in the second as they added four tries – with Rowan Henecke and Justin Bosman each crossing the tryline twice in the match – while their effective defence limited the Port Elizabeth outfit to only five points for their efforts.
Free State dominated their clash against the Golden Lions from start to end, which saw them sail to a 27-5 victory. A hat-trick by flanker Duan Steyl and a solid performance by flyhalf Tim Frederix, who dictated play with ease, proved to be instrumental in the victory. The team backed this up with solid defence, which limited the hosts to an unconverted try.
A strong first half showing by the Pumas in which they powered their way to a 24-5 lead set them up for a rewarding 36-19 victory against the Valke. Pumas No 8 Sandile Sjimbo scored two of his team’s five tries, while the Valke’s three tries were all scored by No 8 Divan Erasmus.
In the opening match of the day Western Province defeated the KZN 20-10 thanks to their four tries to two by the KwaZulu-Natalians. The Capetonians dominated the first half as they camped in the opposition’s half and applied pressure on attack, which saw them build up a 20-5 halftime lead. KZN, however, tightened up their defence in the second half and tried to force their way back into the match, but they fell short despite these efforts.
A brace by Blue Bulls fullback Mechack Nzike, meanwhile, guided his team to a 21-12 victory against the Leopards. The first half was close with the sides entering halftime tied at 7-7, but the Pretoria side found their rhythm soon after and crossed the tryline twice more, while they limited the Leopards to only one five-pointer in the second half.
The Griffons staged a strong comeback from 12-3 down against SWD, who took top honours in last year’s tournament, to register a hard-fought 18-12 victory. Both sides scored two tries and converted one, but two penalty goals by the Welkom side sealed the victory for them.
The clash between Griquas and Border was nail-biting as Griquas overturned a 10-8 halftime deficit to secure a narrow 17-15 victory. Interestingly Border outscored Griquas three tries to two, but the Kimberley side’s superior goal kicking earned them the win.
The competition will continue on Tuesday, while the players will have Wednesday off to rest and recover before the final day’s play on Thursday.
Day one results
Blue Bulls 21-12 Leopards
Pumas 36-19 Valke
Boland 40-5 Eastern Province
Griquas 17-15 Border
Golden Lions 5-27 Free State
SWD 12-18 Griffons
Day two fixtures (Tuesday, 3 October):
09h30 – Griffons v Leopards (B Field)
10h00 – Border v KZN (A Field)
10h35 – Golden Lions v EP (B Field)
11h05 – Pumas v Griquas (A Field)
11h40 – SWD v Valke (B Field)
12h10 – Boland v Free State (A Field)
13h15 – Blue Bulls v Western Province (A Field)