Johannesburg - A handful of teams in the U18 Craven Week and Academy Week on Wednesday ensured that they have a chance to stake a claim for a place in the final match of the respective tournaments on Saturday as they remained unbeaten in their penultimate matches at St Stithians College.
The Golden Lions, Western Province, Free State and the Limpopo Blue Bulls finished their second round of matches unbeaten in their respective group in the U18 Craven Week; and Western Province, Eastern Province CD and Griquas respectively in the Academy Week.
The hosts played to a 13-13 draw against Western Province, who took top honours at the tournament last season, in a thrilling finish to the day’s play, while Free State beat the Pumas 63-41 and the Limpopo Blue Bulls outplayed Border 59-41 in a fantastic day’s action.
In the Academy Week, meanwhile, Western Province defeated the Sharks 50-36, while Eastern Province CD beat the Valke 34-27 and Griquas registered a 34-19 win against Sharks CD to retain their unbeaten status.
The remaining 10 teams in the flagship tournament and 12 teams in the Academy Week will take to the field on Thursday in the penultimate round of matches.
The clash between Western Province and Golden Lions was epic as both sides showed pure determination on attack and defence, which resulted in a tight tussle from the outset.
The Cape side struck first in the opening minute of the clash as Angelo Davids scored in the corner and that proved to be the only points in the first half, as the home team struggled to use their chances and lost several lineout balls.
WP touched down again in the opening exchanges of the second half, through Thaakir Abrahams, but the hosts forced their way back into the clash with two well-worked but unconverted tries by David Cary and Tino Swanepoel to level the scores at 10-10. Kennedy Mpeku for the home team and Quan Eymann for the Capetonians traded penalty goals which saw them tied at 13-13 in the dying minutes, and with neither team able to add to their score, this proved to be the end result.
The clash between Free State and the Pumas was gripping as the Bloemfontein side build up an encouraging 21-8 lead, but a yellow card in the 22nd minute paved the way for the Pumas to fight back strongly and close the gap 21-20 going into the break.
Free State retained possession and applied pressure on attack in the second half, while the Pumas’ balanced performance kept them in the game early in the third quarter. The Mpumalanga side’s efforts, however, were not enough to stop the Free State from making their presence felt and they increased their try tally to nine, while they limited the Pumas to six for the 63-41.
The third day of the U18 Craven Week got off to an exciting start as the Tshepa Trading Griffons ran circles around Border CD from start to end for an emphatic 80-5 victory. Such was their dominance, they were 53-0 up at the break, and then built on this in the second half to earn an impressive 14 tries. Three players in the Welkom side scored hat-tricks, namely Verlyn Van Vollenhoven, Truimp Boloyi and Andrew Kota, while Kota also slotted over four conversions for a personal.
Boland made the most of Griquas CD’s mistakes in the first half to work their way to a 32-21 victory as they scored five tries to the opposition’s three. Boland ran in four tries in the first half and limited Griquas CD to one for a 27-7 lead, and this laid the foundation for their victory, as they leaked two converted tries in the second half. This comeback, however, was too little too late.
A staggering 100 points and two hat-tricks were scored in the clash between the Limpopo Blue Bulls and Border as both teams ran hard on attack and took advantage of the porous defence. The strong Limpopo forwards stamped their authority up-front, which allowed the team to build up a 35-20 lead, and they increased their points tally to 59 points in the second half. Border centre Siphamandla Matsinya also made a good contribution to his team’s score as he scored three of their tries.
Western Province dominated their clash against the Sharks from the outset as their forwards and backs combined well to control proceedings. They earned the rewards early in the match as they led 26-3 at the break, and they continued to apply pressure in the second half to earn 50 points in the match. The Sharks fought back in the second half and managed to score 33 points, but this was not enough to cancel out the effective performance by the Western Cape side.
A dominant second-half showing by the Limpopo Blue Bulls allowed them to cruise to a comprehensive 64-17 victory against Griquas CD. The first half was competitive as the Limpopo side took a 26-17 lead, but they tightened up their defence after the break and denied the Griquas CD from adding to their score.
They backed this up with a solid attacking display to increase their try tally to 10 for the match, while flyhalf William Thulare and winger Moketla Mamabolo made a big contribution with two tries and seven conversions, and a hat-trick respectively.
Griquas’ ability to capitalise on their point-scoring chances in the second half combined with their solid defence also earned them 34-19 victory against Sharks CD. The teams were closely matched in the first half, with the Kimberley side taking a narrow 24-19 lead, and they continued to make their presence on attack as the game progressed, while they shut out the KwaZulu-Natal side on defence. This performance allowed them outscore the Sharks CD six tries to three for the win.
A strong start by Boland, meanwhile, set them up for a 28-15 victory against the Griffons, as they ran in three first-half tries to a converted try and penalty goal by the Welkom side for a 23-10 lead. In a tight second half, each side was only able to score a try, but this was enough for the Western Cape team to seal the victory.
SWD broke away in the second half of their clash against Eastern Province to score seven tries to five by the opposition. The George side took a 24-17 lead, and continued to make their presence felt in the second half, with No 8 Hannes Gous scoring a brace for his team, which steered them to victory.
Eastern Province CD delivered a firm performance against the Valke in a competitive match in which they scored six tries to five by the Kempton Park side for their 34-27 victory. The sides were closely matched on attack and defence, but the Eastern Cape side’s ability to make the most of their point-scoring chances sealed the victory for them.
The second-last round of matches at the U18 Craven Week and Academy Week will be contested on Thursday, with all the teams having Friday off to rest. The final round of matches will be played on Saturday.
U18 Craven Week day three fixtures (Wednesday, July 19):
Griffons 80-5 Border CD
Boland 32-21 Griquas CD
Border 41-59 Limpopo Blue Bulls
Free State 63-41 Pumas
Golden Lions 13-13 Western Province
Academy Week day three fixtures (Wednesday, July 19):
Limpopo Blue Bulls 64-17-XX Griquas CD
Griquas 34-19 Sharks CD
Eastern Province 31-45 SWD
Eastern Province CD 34-27 Valke
Western Province 50-36 Sharks
Boland 28-15 Griffons
U18 Craven Week day three fixtures (Thursday, July 20):
09:00 - Eastern Province CD v Zimbabwe
10:35 - Griquas v Valke
12:05 - Blue Bulls v Eastern Province
13:45 - Namibia v Leopards
15:30 - Sharks v SWD
Academy Week day four fixtures (Thursday, 20 July):
08:00 - Griffons CD v Namibia
09:20 - Zimbabwe v Border CD
10:40 - Pumas CD v Leopards
12:00 - SA LSEN v Valke Platteland
13:20 - Border v Golden Lions XV
14:40 - Free State v Golden Lions
16:00 - Blue Bulls v Pumas