Cape Town - Craven Week and Academy Week tournaments got off to an exhilarating start at Paarl Boys’ High’s Brug Street grounds on Monday, with an exciting mix of big wins and nail-biting clashes keeping spectators gripped throughout the day.
In the U18 Craven Week, the hosts, Western Procince ran riot on attack against the Pumas as they broke through the defence at will and rounded off their chances, which earned them a 72-10 victory. The team powered their way to a 36-10 lead, and continued to navigate their way through the defence as the game progressed, which allowed them to touch down an impressive 11 times. The match was particularly memorable for Dawid Kellerman who scored four of his team’s tries.
Border started their clash against Limpopo Blue Bulls with a bang, which set them up for a convincing 68-17 victory. Their superb all-round performance pushed them 40-12 ahead at half-time, and they maintained this good form as the match progressed to run in a fantastic 10 tries - four of which were scored by Sibabalwe Xamlashe.
The Griffons were also in fine form against the Blue Bulls XV and did well to round off their try-scoring opportunities, which paved the way for a rewarding 51-17 victory. The Northern Free Staters’ set pieces were solid, while their effective finishing skills allowed them to run in an impressive eights tries, with Georgen Kiewiet and Keith Van Aswegen each scoring two, while they limited the Pretoria side to three tries.
The clash between the Golden Lions - the top team last season - and Eastern Province was nail-biting as both teams tried hard to stamp their authority on attack with their strong forwards and skilful backs, which resulted in a fast-paced entertaining spectacle. The Johannesburg team took a narrow 26-20 half-time lead before finding their rhythm later in the match, which saw them earn seven tries to the opposition’s three for a 46-25 win.
In the Academy Week, the hosts, Western Province, outplayed the Pumas 57-28 thanks to their classy attacking display, which saw them run in a whopping nine tries. Mark Etzebeth, Louwan Horn and Justin Cupido all scored braces, while they limited the Pumas to four.
Namibia hit their straps in the second half against Valke CD to run in five tries to one for a rewarding 41-8 victory. The first half was competitive as Namibia managed to build up a 13-8 lead, but their determination paid off as the game progressed. Aj Zaahl was in fine form for the Namibians as he scored a try, five conversions and two penalty goals for a personal tally of 21 points.
The Sharks also showed their class against the Boland as they ran hard on attack and capitalised effectively on their try-scoring chances to earn a 43-21 victory. The Durbanites built a steady innings in the first half and took a 24-7 lead at the break, and they maintained this form to cross the chalk a total of seven times. Boland tried hard to force their way back into the game, but they were limited to three tries for their efforts, which left them short.
Built-it Border were dominant in their showing against the Leopards from the outset as they produced a balanced showing between their forwards and backs, which earned them a 31-18 victory. Their strong first half allowed them to build up an encouraging 21-3 lead at the break, and this set them in good stead as the Leopards fought back with intent in the second half. Their efforts, however, were too little too late.
The clash between Blue Bulls CD and Sharks CD was hard-fought from the outset, with the Pretoria side grinding out a 27-22 victory after overturning a narrow 15-14 halftime deficit. Their four tries, with a brace a by Ethan Wentzel, who also kicked two conversions and a penalty goal, was vital, proving enough to outdo a hat-trick by Menzi Nxumalo.
Zimbabwe also held their nerve in a tight tussle with the SA LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) team for a narrow 29-27 victory. The African side nudged their way to a 17-15 half-time lead, and in the end, the constant threat they posed on attack and pace out wide earned them five tries, while the SA LSEN team touched down only four times.
The Valke’s accurate goal-kicking, meanwhile, earned them a 39-36 victory against Griquas, as the team scored five tries to the Kimberley outfit’s six. The Valke’s Christiaan Visser and Franco Enslin each scored twice, while Kyle Potgieter’s four conversions and two penalty goals earned them a sufficient lead to cancel out Griquas’ efforts, which included a hat-trick by Keenan Beckett.
The action continues on Tuesday, with the remaining 10 U18 Craven Week teams and 14 Academy Week teams kicking off their campaigns.
U18 Craven Week day one results (Monday, July 9):
Griffons 51-17 Blue Bulls XV
Border 68-17 Limpopo Blue Bulls
Golden Lions 46-25 Eastern Province
Western Province 72-10 Pumas
Academy Week day one results (Monday, July 9):
Sharks CD 22-27 Blue Bulls CD
Namibia 41-8 Valke CD
Zimbabwe 29-27 SA LSEN
Griquas 36-39 Valke
Border 31-18 Leopards
Boland 21-43 Sharks
Western Province 57-28 Pumas
U18 Craven Week day two fixtures (Tuesday, July 10):
09:30 – Golden Lions XV v Western Province XV
11:00 – Valke v Leopards
12:30 – Boland v Griquas
14:00 – Sharks v SWD
15:30 – Free State v Blue Bulls
Academy Week day two fixtures (Tuesday, July 10):
08:00 – Griquas CD v Griffons CD
08:00 – Pumas CD v Border CD
09:20 – Eastern Province CD v Limpopo
10:40 – Golden Lions CD v Western Province CD
12:00 – SWD v Griffons
13:20 – Golden Lions v Free State
14:40 – Blue Bulls v Eastern Province