Eastern Province and the Valke on Thursday stayed in the running for a possible place in the final match of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week on Saturday as they fought their way to victories on Day Four at the Markötter Sports Complex at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch.
Eastern Province, who came out tops in last year’s tournament, registered a nail-biting 23-22 victory against KwaZulu-Natal in a gripping clash, in which two players received red cards.
The Valke, meanwhile, showed fantastic flair on attack in a strong second-half showing to outplay Griquas 34-21, which marked their second victory of the tournament.
In the other matches SWD defeated the Golden Lions 28-19, while Eastern Province CD overpowered Zimbabwe 51-20 and the Leopards pipped Griquas CD 18-17.
The teams will have Friday off to recover from the physical rugby in the last few days, with the final round of matches being played on Saturday.
The fixtures are set to be announced later on Thursday, with Eastern Province, the Valke, Western Province and Boland in the running for places in the grand finale of the tournament.
The clash between Eastern Province and KwaZulu-Natal was hard-fought as the teams threw everything at one another on attack and defence, which resulted in the clash resembling the intensity of a Test match. This despite the fact that the Durban side were dealt a big blow in the 31st minute as they were reduced to 14 men due to a red card for a dangerous tackle.
KwaZulu-Natal opened up the scoring in the 16th minute with a penalty by Bader Pretorius to take a 3-0 lead. A yellow card for the Durban side in the 23rd minute, however, paved the way for Eastern Province to score the first try of the match to push them into a 7-3 lead. KwaZulu-Natal, however, were dealt another blow as a red card for a dangerous tackle reduced them to 13 players briefly. In-form Eastern Province flyhalf Curwin Bosch pushed the team into a 10-3 lead shortly before the break thanks to well-timed drop goal.
They added their second try of the match in the 37th minute compliments of Heino Bezuidenhout, which Bosch backed up with another drop goal to stretch their lead. The Durban side, however, fought back with intent with Marco Palvie scoring a try, and Bader Pretorius adding another shortly after Eastern Province were reduced to 14 players, which reduced the deficit on the scoreboard to 17-15.
Two long-distance penalties by Bosch, however, pushed his team 23-15 ahead. Eastern Province, however, were again reduced to 14 men in the 73rd minute after a second yellow-card offence, which KwaZulu-Natal capitalised on to score a try on the stroke of fulltime. Unfortunately the conversion still left them one point short on the scoreboard at 23-22.
Eastern Province – Tries: Khewzi Mafu, Heino Bezuidenhout. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Curwin Bosch (2). Drop Goal: Curwin Bosch.
KwaZulu-Natal – Tries: Bader Pretorius, Marco Palvie (2). Conversions: Bader Pretorius (2). Penalty: Bader Pretorius.
The Valke and Griquas were involved in a tense clash with both teams doing well to balance their strong forward play with running rugby among the backs. So closely matched were the teams in the first half only one point separated the teams on the scoreboard, with Griquas leading 18-17.
But the Valke’s attacking prowess handed them an edge as they outscored Griquas five tries to two to secure their second victory in the tournament.
The Valke started the clash strongly with a try in the 12th minute, but Griquas struck back with a penalty by Gert Nortje and a try. The teams each scored another try as the half progressed, while Nortje added his second penalty to push Griquas ahead by one point on the scoreboard.
The Valke, however, broke away in the second half as they scored three more tries, while limiting Griquas to a drop goal to secure a 34-21 victory.
Valke – Tries: Xander Crause, Irvin Ali, Damon Karelse, Dylan Van der Walt. Conversions: Xander Crause (3). Penalty: Xander Crause.
Griquas – Tries: Cameron Huffke (2). Conversion: Gert Nortje. Penalties: Gert Nortje (2). Drop Goal: Gert Nortje.
SWD made their presence felt early on against the Golden Lions as they retained possession and applied continuous pressure on attack in the first half. They were particularly effective at forcing their way over the advantage line, and despite having to work hard for their points, their persistence on attack earned them two tries compliments of Bradley Kiewitz and Christo Hamman for a 14-0 lead.
With the Golden Lions having to feed off the scraps, meanwhile, they spent a large part of the first half in their own half, while they battled to get close to SWD’s tryline. And when they did, they were shut out by the effective defence, which left them scoreless at the break.
SWD continued to make their presence felt in the second half, but the Golden Lions tightened up their defence and stepped up their attack. SWD tried hard to breach the defence in the opening exchanges after the break but their efforts proved unsuccessful.
The Lions, meanwhile, did well to capitalise on their point-scoring chances and finally broke through the defence in the 44th minute for their first try and then added another minutes later following a fantastic break to reduce the deficit to 14-12.
This, however, was cancelled out soon after as SWD centre Imanuel Libbok dashed to the tryline, while Nevada Jacobs scored an intercept try three minutes later to stretch their lead to 28-12. Another stunning break by the Lions allowed them to close the gap on the scoreboard to 28-19 thanks to their third try with minutes left on the clock, but this was too little too late for the Johannesburg side.
SWD – Tries: Imanuel Libbok, Nevada Jacobs, Christo Hamman, Bradley Kiewitz. Conversions: Imanuel Libbok (4).
Lions – Tries: Ivan Smit (2), Len Massyn. Conversions: Ivan Smit (2)
The first half between Zimbabwe and Eastern Province CD was exciting as the teams stretched the defence and ran hard at one another, which resulted in a try festival, with a total of 11 tries scored.
Zimbabwe dominated the opening exchanges as they found space out wide, which their speedy backs capitalised on, to score three tries in the first 13 minutes for a 15-0 lead. Eastern Province CD, however, fought back strongly and scored two tries and a penalty.
Zimbabwe, however, crossed the tryline once again before the break to take a narrow 20-15 lead. This was short-lived as the Eastern Cape side dominated territory and possession in the second half, which allowed them to run riot on attack.
Such was their dominance they crossed the tryline five times to take their tally for the match to seven. Zimbabwe, meanwhile, were forced to defend most of the time and were unable to add to their score, resulting in them having to settle for a 51-20 defeat.
Zimbabwe – Tries: Ernest Mudzengerere, Stuart Marriott-Dodington, Tinotenda Vheriwa, Russel Dinha.
Eastern Province CD – Tries: Joshua Nieuwoudt, Chulu Chutu, Grant Dixie (2), Gevanhier Blom (3). Conversions: Geoffrey Dakin (5). Penalties: Geoffrey Dakin (2).
The clash between Griquas CD and the Leopards was hard-fought from start to end as neither team gave an inch on attack and defence. Both sides tried to retain possession for long periods and placed pressure on the opposition’s defence, but with the players putting their bodies on the line, only four tries were scored in the match.
Griquas CD took a 10-8 lead at the break thanks to a fantastic try by Denvill Joseph, and a penalty before the break, even though the Leopards struck first with a try in the sixth minute followed by a drop goal.
The second half was equally close, but a penalty try by Griquas CD pushed them further into the lead. The Leopards, however, added their second try in the 51st minute, while flyhalf Andre Kock his second drop goal to push the team into one-point lead, which they held onto to secure the victory.
Griquas CD – Try: Denvill Joseph, Penalty Try. Conversions: Renier Fortuin, Adri du Plessis. Penalty: Renier Fortuin.
Leopards – Tries: Lionel George, Ryno Visagie. Conversion: Andre Kock. Drop Goals: Andre Kock.
Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day-four results:
Eastern Province 23 – 22 KwaZulu-Natal
Valke 34 – 21 Griquas
SWD 28 – 19 Golden Lions
Zimbabwe 20 – 51 Eastern Province CD
Griquas CD 17 – 18 Leopards