The penultimate day of action the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Coca-Cola Academy Week tournaments at St Stithians College on Thursday proved to be an attacking festival as 828 points were scored in an entertaining day’s play.
A total of 112 points and 17 tries were scored in the highest scoring game, while 375 Points were scored over the course of the day in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and 453 in the Coca-Cola Academy Week.
In the flagship event, the Sharks defeated SWD 65-26, the Leopards overpowered Namibia 57-30, Eastern Province outplayed the Blue Bulls 37-0, GWK Griquas earned a 60-52 victory against the Valke and Eastern Province CD defeated Old Mutual Zimbabwe 34-14.
In the Coca-Cola Academy Week, meanwhile, it was a good day for the hosts, as the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions beat the Free State 48-38 and the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV defeated Border 31-8, while the SA (Learners with Special Education Needs) team worked their way to a 43-31 win against Valke Platteland and the Leopards beat Pumas CD 33-17 and the Blue Bulls overpowered the Pumas 46-31.
It was also a solid day for African neighbours, Old Mutual Zimbabwe and Namibia, who beat Border CD 64-15 and the Tshepa Trading Griffons CD 31-17 respectively.
These results saw the Sharks, Leopards and GWK Griquas remain unbeaten in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, and SA LSEN and the Blue Bulls in the Coca-Cola Academy Week.
U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week
The Sharks’ forwards laid a solid foundation for their team to attack against SWD, and they backed this up with good pressure and fantastic support play to earn a 65-26 victory. The KwaZulu-Natal side ran with intent on attack and they managed to navigate their way through the gaps in the defence with ease to cross the chalk six times in the first half for a 38-12 halftime lead. SWD hit back immediately after the break with a try and they added another in the dying minutes, but the Sharks’ four second-half tries saw them cruise to victory. Sharks prop Thabiso Mdletshe and No 8 Phendulani Buthelezi were each rewarded with two tries for their efforts in the clash.
The Leopards were in control of their clash against Namibia from start to end as they dominated territory and possession and used most of their try-scoring chances to register a 57-30 victory. Such was the Leopards’ dominance, they powered their way to a 28-8 lead at the break. Namibia fought back strongly in the second half and it paid off as they earned five tries in the match. This, however, was not enough to stop the Leopards from scoring, and they finished the match with eight tries, two of which were scored by flyhalf Hanru van Rooyen, who also slotted over seven penalty goals and drop goal.
Eastern Province, meanwhile, dominated their clash against the Blue Bulls completely to earn a rewarding 37-0 victory. The Eastern Cape side retained possession and attacked at will, which forced the Pretoria side to defend for most of the match, while they were left to feed off the scraps on attack. Eastern Province ran in six tries in total, with No 6 Bevan Prinsloo scoring two of their tries.
Eastern Province CD’s ability to convert their chances into points – an area that lacked in Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s game – handed them an edge for their 34-14 victory and their first win in the tournament. The teams were well balanced in all areas of their game apart from their finishing, but despite this the Eastern Cape side took an encouraging 24-7 lead and they built on this after the break, while they leaked only two tries Namibian centre Mazvitaishe Nyamarebvu.
An astounding 112 points were scored in the clash between GWK Griquas and the Valke, with the Kimberley side registering a narrow 60-52 victory. The GWK Griquas scored nine tries and the Valke eight in an entertaining attacking display. Valke scrumhalf Leshley October and flyhalf Ruben Beytell each scored a hat-trick, while GWK Griquas flyhalf Charles Williams proved to be a standout player for his side thanks to his two tries, six conversions and penalty goal.
Coca-Cola Academy Week
The Blue Bulls used their ability to score from broken play to work their way to a 46-31 victory against the Pumas. The Pretoria side powered their way to a 31-14 lead in the first half thanks to their effectiveness on attack, and they continued to make their presence felt in the second half. Replacement back Edmund Ludick played a key role in the team’s success as he scored two tries, four conversions and one penalty goal for a personal total of 21 points.
Hosts, the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions, earned the rewards for their effective rounding off as they overcame a big battle up front against the Free State for a 48-38 win. A try, five conversions and a penalty goal by the hosts’ centre Jeremy Randall and two tries by lock Jordan Mbuyamba steered the side to victory as they outscored the Free State seven tries to six, while their superior goal-kicking handed them a cushion on the scoreboard.
Namibia’s balanced second-half showing earned them a 31-17 victory against the Tshepa Trading Griffons after a tight first half in which Namibia took a narrow 14-12 lead. Namibian centre Morgan Esterhuizen scored a brace, with the team touching down five times in the match, while they limited the Welkom side to adding only one try after the break to add to their two in the first half.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe ran riot on attack against Border CD to cross the chalk 10 times in a one-sided display, in which the Eastern Cape side’s defence cost them dearly. Three players in the Old Mutual Zimbabwe side scored twice, while fullback Tanie Roelofsz scored a try and slotted over seven conversions for 19 points.
The Leopards found their rhythm in the second half against Pumas CD to secure a 33-17 victory thanks to their four tries by two the opposition. The first half was closely fought with the Leopards taking a narrow 14-10 lead. They supported this with a solid performance after the break in which they capitalised on their try-scoring chances, while their solid defence limited Pumas CD to only a converted try.
A hat-trick by the SA Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) team’s centre Stanley Fry and a star performance by fullback Shilton van Wyk who scored two tries and three conversions, meanwhile, paved the way for their 43-31 victory against Valke Platteland. In a tight first half the SA LSEN team took a narrow 19-12 lead, but they did well to capitalise on their try-scoring chances after the break to increase their try tally to seven, while the Valke Platteland only scored five tries.
The Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV, meanwhile, wore down Border with their hard running and patience on attack, and this paid off with a satisfying 31-8 win. The home team’s centre Juandre Breytenbach scored two of the team’s five tries as they controlled proceedings and shut down the Eastern Cape side’s efforts on attack.
All 46 teams in two the tournaments will have Friday off to rest after four days of physically-demanding clashes and will return to the field on Saturday for the final round of matches.
U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day three fixtures (Thursday, 20 July):
Coca-Cola Academy Week day four fixtures (Thursday, 20 July):
U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day five fixtures (Saturday, 22 July):
08h00 – Eastern Province CD v Border CD
09h00 – Limpopo Blue Bulls v GWK Griquas
09h25 – Namibia v Old Mutual Zimbabwe
10h15 – Valke v GWK Griquas CD
10h35 – Eastern Province v Leopards
12h05 – SWD v Pumas
12h15 – Boland v Tshepa Trading Griffons
13h40 – Border v Blue Bulls
13h45 – Free State v DHL Western Province
15h30 – Sharks v Bidvest Walton Golden Lions
Coca-Cola Academy Week day five fixtures (Saturday, 22 July):
08h00 – Border CD v GWK Griquas CD
09h00 – Pumas v Eastern Province CD
09h00 – Old Mutual Zimbabwe v Namibia
09h25 – Sharks CD v Tshepa Trading Griffons CD
10h25 – Boland v Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions
10h25 – SA LSEN v GWK Griquas
10h50 – Pumas CD v Valke Platteland
11h50 – Sharks v Free State
11h50 – Eastern Province v Leopards
12h15 – Limpopo Blue Bulls v Valke
13h15 – Border v Tshepa Trading Griffons
13h15 – Blue Bulls v DHL Western Province
13h40 – SWD v Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV
Photo: Phendulani Buthelezi of the Sharks wins possession against SWD during day 4 of the 2017 U/18 Coca-Cola Craven Week. (Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)