SWD and Western Province on Monday stood out as two of the top contenders to play for places in the final match of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week on Saturday as they registered strong starts to the competition at HTS Middelburg in Mpumalanga.
SWD created the first upset in the tournament as they defeated KwaZulu-Natal 18-13 in a thrilling clash, while Western Province delivered a hard-fought 33-32 victory against the hosts, the Pumas, in a nail-biting end to the opening day’s play.
The win for Western Province, in particular, was the first step in their mission to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts who finished the Under-13 Coca-Cola Craven Week, Under-16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week and the Coca-Cola Academy Week as the unofficial champions.
The Griffons, Limpopo Blue Bulls and Eastern Province CD also started their campaigns on an encouraging note as they registered invaluable victories.
The Griffons thumped Border 47-20, while the Limpopo Blue Bulls registered a 25-19 victory against Griquas CD, and Eastern Province CD survived a late comeback by Zimbabwe for a 54-43 victory.
The opening day’s matches were attended by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, his assistant coach Johann van Graan, Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron, as well as several SARU officials including CEO Jurie Roux and SARU’s development GM Mervin Green and GM Referees Andre Watson.
SWD 18 (12) KwaZulu-Natal 13 (13)
SWD created the first upset of the tournament as they toppled KwaZulu-Natal 18-13 in a nail-biting clash. The Durban side took a narrow 13-12 lead at the break despite scoring only one early try to two by SWD in the first half, thanks to two penalties by KwaZulu-Natal flyhalf and captain Tristan James Tedder.
But SWD made life tough for the Durban side in the second half as they stepped up their defence, which denied the opposition a single point in the second half – this despite their determined efforts to cross the tryline. With KwaZulu-Natal also delivering a solid defensive effort, SWD capitalised on two late penalties to force their way into the lead on the scoreboard to earn a morale-boosting victory.
SWD – Tries: Ruan Barnard, Shadward Fillies. Conversion: John Thomas Jackson. Penalties: John Thomas Jackson (2).
KwaZulu-Natal – Tries: Morne Joubert. Conversion: Tristan James Tedder. Penalties: Tristan James Tedder (2).
Limpopo Blue Bulls 25 (13) Griquas CD 19 (19)
Griquas CD had the upper hand in the first half against the Limpopo Blue Bulls thanks to two late tries in the half to add to an earlier five-pointer, which took their tally to three. An impressive two tries in three minutes, however, allowed the Limpopo Blue Bulls to force their way onto the scoreboard.
Griquas CD, however, failed to add points to their score in a hard-fought second half, while the Limpopo Blue Bulls managed to penetrate the opposition’s defence twice, which allowed them to secure a 25-19 victory.
Limpopo Blue Bulls – Tries: Diederik Frederik Oberholzer, Kgetho Mabokela (2), Mohlanye Kleinboy Mmitji Mametsa. Conversion: Diederik Frederik Oberholzer. Penalty: Diederik Frederik Oberholzer.
Griquas CD – Tries: Andre Bruce Share, Dian Dry, Elmo Jantjies. Conversions: Coenie Lamprecht (2).
Eastern Province CD 54 (39) Zimbabwe 43 (17)
The clash between Eastern Province CD and Zimbabwe was a try festival, with 13 tries in total being scored in the clash. Eastern Province CD started the match with a bang thanks to a fine attacking performance, which allowed them to remain on the front foot for most of the half. Such was the high quality of their attack they scored five back-to-back tries in the first half and limited Zimbabwe to a penalty. But Zimbabwe hit back strongly before half time with two converted tries in two minutes, which allowed them to force their way back into the match.
This bolstered their confidence going into the second half, as they did well to retain possession and use their pace on attack, and they earned the rewards as they crossed Eastern Province CD’s tryline three more times. The Port Elizabeth side, however, also managed to add to their score, which handed them an edge on until the final whistle.
EP CD – Tries: Bradley Luciano Christian (2), Craig Williams, Ethan September, Joshua Thomas Shelly, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Xandre Vos. Conversions: Cameron Hertz (5). Penalties: Cameron Hertz (3).
Zimbabwe – Tries: Brian Mhuriyengwe, Matthew Ushewokunze (2), Tawanda Gabriel Rukudzo Ngosi (2), Tinashe Martin Gonese. Conversions: Campbell Nyakudya (5). Penalty: Campbell Nyakudya.
Griffons 47 (42) Border 20 (6)
The Griffons were in fine form from the outset in their clash against Border thanks to their strong pack and talented backs who combined well to make their presence felt. The first half was a one-sided affair as the Griffons ran in six tries, while Border had to settle for two penalties for their efforts. The East London side, however, created a few try-scoring chances, but struggled to convert these into points.
The second half was much more competitive as Border applied pressure on attack and found their rhythm, which earned them two tries. They also tightened up their defence, which resulted in Border adding only one try to their score in the second half. But this was not enough for Border to create an upset.
Griffons – Tries: Erik Knoetze (2), Ezrick Alexander (2), Francois Stemmet, Jaywinn Juries, Johann Vermaak. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (6).
Border – Tries: Courtney Winnaar, Jerry Danquah. Conversions: Courtney Winnaar, Morgan Steyn. Penalties: Morgan Steyn (2).
Pumas 32 (15) Western Province 33 (30)
The battle between the Pumas and Western Province was epic as the hosts gave everything to edge their way into the lead in the dying seconds, but in the end the Pumas were pipped 33-32. Western Province tried hard to stamp their authority in the first half and managed to build up an impressive 30-15 lead at the break. With the Pumas defence limiting Western Province’s attacking options with their solid defence, however, the Cape side opted for penalties early on to keep the scoreboard ticking. The Pumas indiscipline, however, cost them as they received two yellow cards in the half, which handed Western Province an edge, which they took advantage of.
The Pumas, however, fought back with intent in the second half as they improved their discipline and defence, and used their point-scoring chances well. This allowed them to force their way back into the match with two late tries and a penalty, which left them one point short on the scoreboard as the final whistle sounded.
Pumas – Tries: Adriaan Andries Jacobus Bester, Barend Johannes Smit, Mfundo Kevin Ndhlovu, Stephanus Johannes Enslin. Conversions: George Frederik Muller Joubert (3). Penalties: George Frederik Muller Joubert (2).
Western Province – Tries: Duncan Saal (2), Jaco Willemse. Conversions: Tiaan Henk Swanepoel (3). Penalties: Tiaan Henk Swanepoel (4).