A superb all-round performance by DHL Western Province saw them overpower the Assupol Blue Bulls 56-31 in the final match of the U18 SA Rugby Craven Week at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The victory marked the Capetonians’ third win in the tournament, earning them the status as the only unbeaten side, while it also ensured that they finish the tournament as the top side for the second year in a row.
The win also wrapped up a rewarding day for the union, as the DHL WP side in action in the SA Rugby Academy also won their final match.
This wrapped up a thrilling week of Craven Week rugby in which 268 tries and 1787 points were scored in 27 matches over five days of play.
U18 SA Rugby Craven Week match summaries:
DHL Western Province produced a scintillating second-half performance, which saw them run circles around the Assupol Blue Bulls, to register a pleasing 56-31 victory. The first half proved to be a tight tussle with the teams scoring one after the other, and it reflected on the scoreboard with the Capetonians leading 21-19 at the break.
But they broke loose in a fine display of their skills in the second half, which allowed them to outscore the Pretoria side by eight tries to four. DHL WP fullback Tharquinn Manuel and Connor Evans (lock) each scored twice, while Kade Wolhuter (flyhalf) had a good day with the boot, kicking eight conversions.
A hat-trick by Assupol Blue Bulls XV No 8 Armand Fleidl and brace by Jaryd Scheepers (lock) nudged their team to a big 63-26 victory against the NWU Valke in a strong finish to the tournament.
The Pretoria side were in boiling form on attack, which saw them cross the tryline nine times – with Justin Cross (flyhalf) converting all of them – while the Kempton Park side could only breach the tryline four times despite doing well to make their presence felt in the first half.
The Cell C Sharks gave a strong account of themselves for a convincing 53-13 victory against the Thepa Trading Griffons, which marked the Welkom side’s first defeat in the competition.
The first half was closely fought with the KwaZulu-Natalians taking a 10-5 lead, but they broke away in the second half as they snuffed out gaps in the defence and dashed through to touch down seven times. Ockie Barnard (lock) and Mbasa Nkonki (winger) each scored braces, while Jordan Hendrikse (flyhalf) was in good form with the boot scoring six conversions and two penalty goals for his 18 points.
Braces by Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions winger Ngia Selengbe and Declan Raubenheimer (replacement flyhalf) assisted their side to a 49-26 victory against hosts, the Bizhub Free State Cheetahs.
The first half was competitive, with the teams going into halftime level on 21-21, but the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions remained composed and capitalised well on their try-scoring opportunities to outscore their opponents seven tries to four for a strong finish to the tournament.
The DHL Western Province XV staged a dramatic comeback from 27-21 down to force their way to a 45-30 victory against SWD, with Stephan du Toit (centre) contributing a hat-trick and Dalvon Bradley Blood (winger) two tries.
The defeat for the George side marked their first of the tournament. It was thrilling first half as the teams racked up a combined total of 48 points, and they both continued to give everything as the match progressed. But the Capetonians made better use of their chances, which paid off.
The Leopards dominated from the outset against Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls, setting them up for a 43-15 victory. The Potchefstroom side played their way to a 17-0 halftime lead and they continued to take advantage of their chances as the match progressed, which saw them touch down seven times – with Jacques Stander (scrumhalf) and Ruben Oosthuizen (centre) each scoring twice.
Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls flanker Renzo du Plessis gave his all to keep his team in the match, scoring all 15 points compliments of a hat-trick. But this was not enough to counter the Leopards’ dominant form.
Border overcame a challenging first half against Boland to secure to a 43-26 victory in which Oyisa Dyani (hooker) and Jacques Goosen (hooker) starred with vital braces.
The margins were small in the first half, which saw the teams enter halftime at 19-19, but Border bolstered their attack after the break and made the most of their chances to score seven tries to four by Boland for the morale-boosting win.
The Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV overturned a 24-7 halftime deficit to fight their way to a narrow 38-31 victory against New Vaal Griquas thanks to a fine second-half display.
The Kempton Park outfit ruled the roost in the first half as they made good use of their chances, but they battled to break through in the second half as their Gauteng neighbours stepped up their attack and tightened up their defence, which allowed them to outscore the New Vaal Valke six tries to four. Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions centre Frans Weideman scored two of his team’s tries.
The EP Elephants reversed a 20-17 halftime deficit against the Phakisa Pumas to register a 38-28 victory, with Christopher Poole (hooker) and Ambese Zenzile (wing) each touching down twice for their team.
The Phakisa Pumas had the edge in a competitive first half and took a 20-17 lead, and the teams continued to throw everything at one another in the second half. But the EP Elephants’ six tries to three handed them the edge despite the Phakisa Pumas trying to remain in contention for a possible victory by kicking penalty goals.
U18 SA Rugby Craven Week Day Five results (Saturday, 6 July – Grey College):
Cell C Sharks 53-13 Thepa Trading Griffons
New Vaal Griquas 31-38 Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV
Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 49-26 Bizhub Free State Cheetahs
Leopards 43-15 Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls
Border 43-26 Boland
NWU Valke 26-63 Assupol Blue Bulls XV
SWD Eagles 30-45 DHL Western Province XV
EP Elephants 38-28 Phakisa Pumas
DHL Western Province 56-31 Assupol Blue Bulls