Western Province finished the 2014 Coca-Cola Under-13 Craven Week, held at Glenwood High School in Durban, as the top team after claiming a 29-14 victory over Border in a pulsating final match of a week full of entertainment and a display of South African youth rugby talent.
The win over an impressive Border team left the Cape side as the only unbeaten team and unofficial champions.
Equally impressive to the WP display was the abundance of talent spread rights across the country, with a number of “platteland” regions performing very well against the urban provinces.
Three teams were still undefeated at the begin of Day Four on Friday, but after Leopards fell to Eastern Province, it was up to either Border or Western Province to walk away undefeated.
In the end it was Western Province, who scored 126 points and only conceded 27 in four matches that proved their mettle.
Hosts KwaZulu-Natal were unable to break their winless run as they were edged by Free State.
Free State 22 (12), KZN 20 (10)
The team from Bloemfontein finally delivered a polished performance, but was pushed all the way by a home side desperate for a win.
Each team scored four tries in an entertaining match, with the sole successful conversion of the match by Free State outside centre Tony Augus the determining factor.
This came just before the break, but Free State still needed a try on full time to break KwaZulu-Natal hearts.
Tries: Adriaan Brits, Adriaan van Zyl, Duncan Watkins, Tony Augus.
Tries: Jordan Bamber, Siyanda Mkhize, Sphlele Mbona, Thamsanqa Zakwe.
Western Province 29 (17), Border 14 (7)
Western Province dominated Border in an impressive display fitting of a team that finished the week a cut above the rest. Much was expected of Border, who felled some giants earlier in the tournament, but they walked into a determined and skilful WP side that never looked like losing.
WP scored in the opening minutes and again before 15 minutes was up and never looked back. Border did manage to get back within striking distance with a fine try by Austin Brandt, but a yellow card to Border’s Rayden Masters nullified that as WP scored again before the break.
The second half was more even, but with the WP pack in command, Meiring Ebersohn managed a brace of tries to confirm their dominance. He also scored the opener for a rare hat-trick by a hooker.
Tries: Benjamin van Schalkwyk, Daniel Venter, Meiring Ebersohn (3).
Conversions: Fabrizio Linnert (2).
Tries: Austin Brandt, Siposiso Javu.
Conversions: Rayden Masters (2).
Griffons 20 (10), Border Country Districts 19 (12)
The Border Country Districts sides’ winning percentage remains worryingly low at Youth Weeks, but this 2014 squad certainly entertained and only a lack of composure cost them in their match against Griffons.
The Border side was up at the break after two well-worked tries, but the Griffons retaliated well early in the second half. Two early tries gave them the edge, but Border kept on coming and scored with five minutes left.
They attacked again, but lacked the composure and patience to clinch the match.
Tries: Joos Theron, Junior Nyati, Marinus Minnaar.
Conversion: Cammi Roux.
Tries: Lwando Gxumile, Mzwamazizi Ngalo (2).
Conversions: Aviwe Mhlabeni (2).
Eastern Province 14 (7), Leopards 13 (3)
The Leopards only have themselves to blame for conceding their unbeaten status at the week as they had more than enough chances to reach the post first in this tight encounter against Eastern Province.
The coastal side scored first and were looking strong after a second try just after the break and a handy lead. The Leopards came charging back in the latter half of the match and scored twice, but both conversions went wide and they came up short.
Tries: Ayabulela Bulembo, Michael Paddock.
Conversions: Paddock (2).
Tries: Gideon van Wyk, Rossouw Karsten.
Penalty: Estiaan Schonfeldt.
Blue Bulls 14 (7), Griquas 7 (7)
The Blue Bulls finally came good in their last match of the week and managed to beat Griquas with a crucial try in the second half. Scores were tied up at halftime and scoring opportunities limited due to much improved defence on both sides.
It was the Pretoria side, who scored when it mattered. Griquas, who started so well on day one and in this match by scoring in the second minute, will feel disappointed after again losing out by a small margin.
Tries: Franco Groenewald, Gerhard Van der Bijl.
Conversions: Enrique Coutriers, Marcus de Kock.
Try: Stoney Steenekamp.
Conversion: Adriaan Horn.
Boland 12 (12), Valke 5 (5)
Two of the stronger teams at the week collided in this clash and it was Boland who came out tops. They not only outscored Valke in tries, but also finished the stronger of the two.
Valke took an early lead with a try, but Boland worked hard to cut the deficit. They were rewarded with a brace just before the break. The second half remained scoreless, as defences dominated.
Tries: Christiaan Burger, Conray Maart.
Try: Franco Wagener.
Golden Lions 25 (17), Pumas 20 (8)
The Golden Lions improved as the week progressed and delivered a strong performance in their final match, beating a fast-finishing Pumas team. The Golden Lions had a solid lead after the first half, but had to box clever to keep out the Pumas, who outscored them in the second stanza.
Tries: Dehan Niemand, Fernando Galantd, Ian Small-Smith, Ruan van Staden.
Conversion: Garren Booysen.
Penalty: Jo Raldo Olivier.
Tries: Chyle van Zyl, Tiaan Pretorius (2).
Conversion: Ricardo Schonfeldt.
Limpopo Blue Bulls 24 (12), SWD 17 (17)
Two second half tries by Limpopo Blue Bulls pushed them past SWD and rewarded the Limpopo team for their positive play during the week.
SWD started well, with Michael Frost scoring a hat-trick in the first half to put his team well in charge at the break. Limpopo again displayed a never-say-die attitude and kept on attacking. They drew level with a try early in the second half and then clear with their fourth of the match ten minutes from time.
Limpopo Blue Bulls:
Tries: Brandon Cronje (2), Masekela Manyama, Xolan Mazibuko.
Conversions: Cronje (2).
Tries: Michael Frost (3).
Zimbabwe 24 (12), Namibia 24 (14)
This “international” clash proved to be very exciting and competitive and a draw a deserved results for both teams. Zimbabwe’s Nataizya Chininga was one of the most prolific try scorers at the week and again got a brace here, with his first in the opening minute to put his side up. It was tit for tat after that with each side scoring twice before the break.
A penalty after the break extended Namibia’s lead to five points, but it was immediately cancelled out by a third Zim try, of which the conversion was crucially missed. A converted try by Namibia seemed to secure the win, but Chininga also had the last say with a try that was converted to secure the draw.
Tries: Munashe Chaitezwi, Nataizya Chininga (2), Simba Chitaka.
Conversions: Michael Booth, Rukudzo Munyeza.
Tries: Christopher Deck, Mitchell Beukes, Thinus van Wyk.
Conversions: Cornez Liebenberg (3).