Keano Ricardo of Griquas on the run against Eastern Province Elephants – Picture by Gallo Images
Hats off to the Blue Bulls. Without a single win in last year’s three Craven Week matches, they came out at Grey College this year with the resolution to put things right. And that they did on Thursday when they secured a place in the main match when they qualified for a place in Saturday’s main match of the tournament.
On Thursday they came from behind to beat the Western Province XV, officially the Capetonians’ second best, with a late fight-back to win a thriller 36-34 with the final goal coming two minutes from full-time
On Saturday they will have to take on the best WP can offer in the main match to be crowned unofficial champions.
But the Blue Bulls will be buoyed by this win, their second after beating Border two days before, by the fact that their Academy team, the Blue Bulls XV, were also unbeaten and that Limpopo Blue Bulls, also had a good week.
SA Rugby Communications reports that the respective Western Province teams will be the ones to watch in the final round of the U18 SA Rugby Craven Week and SA Rugby Academy Week tournaments on Saturday when they battle it out with the Blue Bulls and Border in the final matches of the prestigious SA Rugby Youth Week tournaments.
The Capetonians emerged as the top teams in the respective competitions last year and are expected to enter their matches with a target on their back.
The SA Rugby Craven Week delivered another thrilling round of hard running and physical play at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Thursday, with high-scoring matches attracting cheers from supporters throughout the day.
It was a particularly rewarding day for the Griffons and Blue Bulls, who registered their second round of victories, which will see them enter Saturday’s closing round as only four unbeaten teams. The others are Western Province and the SWD Eagles.
The SA Rugby Academy Week also dished up some top rugby action with a few big wins and some close encounters keeping fans entertained. Only three of the 14 Academy teams that took to the field in their second round of matches on Thursday are still unbeaten, namely Border, Blue Bulls XV and Valke.
This means only six of the 28 teams participating in the tournament will enter the final round of matches on Saturday undefeated.
All the teams will have Friday off to rest and recharge for Saturday’s matches.
U18 SA Rugby Craven Week match summaries:
It was high drama in the final match of the day between Western Province XV and the Blue Bulls as the Pretoria side’s fullback Geraldo Flusk scored a late try and converted it for a 36-34 lead with seconds to play, and they then managed to hold on for the win. The match was physical from the outset as both sides tried to use their forwards to gain ascendancy and backed it up with some determined play from their backs.
The Capetonians powered their way to a 29-10 halftime lead in a confident showing, but the Blue Bulls fought back with intent after play resumed and their tenacity paid off, with a conversion proving to be the difference in the end. Both sides scored five tries, but the Blue Bulls kicked four conversions to three by Western Province XV’s three, to add to a penalty goal by each side.
The Griffons delivered a classy performance against the Blue Bulls XV for a substantial 50-22 victory, which featured a Duncan Amsterdam (centre) hat-trick. The Welkom side’s forwards and backs complimented each other well, while they did well to round off their try-scoring opportunities for a total of seven tries. Juan-roscoe Ruiters (winger) also made his presence felt with two tries.
The EP Elephants put their hard-running backs and forwards to good use against Griquas, which paved the way for their comprehensive 43-12 victory. The boys from Kimberley often found themselves scrambling on defence, especially in the first half, as the Eastern Cape outfit snuffed out the gaps in the defence and worked their way through those. This earned them an encouraging 31-5 halftime lead, which they built on after the break to score seven tries – two of which were by hooker Christopher Poole.
The Limpopo Blue Bulls were in sublime form against the Golden Lions XV as they ran hard on attack and broke through the defence at will for a 46-24 victory. The Limpopo outfit backed up this fine attacking form with brute physicality, which saw them force their way over the advantage line throughout the game. A total of six players scored their eight tries, but fullback Brandon Cronje was the stand-out player with his hat-trick. Golden Lions XV winger Sifiso Dlamini scored twice for his side, but the Johannesburg side’s defence cost them dearly.
A penalty goal in front of the goal posts in the final minute, meanwhile, saw Border edge Golden Lions 39-36 in an epic clash. Border started strongly but the Gauteng side fought back and the result was a ding-dong clash in which one team scored followed by the other for most of the match. The teams were so well balanced they entered the break tied at 17-17 and went into the final minute of the game level at 36-36 before replacement flyhalf Warrick Day kicked the winning points. Golden Lions winger Tj Maguranyanga and centre Ngia Selengbe, and Border winger Indiphile Tyeda all earned braces in the match.
U18 SA Rugby Craven Week, Day Four results (Thursday)
Limpopo Blue Bulls 46-24 Golden Lions XV
EP Elephants 43-12 Griquas
Griffons 50-22 Blue Bulls XV
Golden Lions 36-39 Border
Blue Bulls 36-34 Western Province XV
U18 SA Rugby Craven Week Day, Five fixtures (Saturday – Grey College):
08h00 – Sharks vs Griffons (A Field)
08h00 – Griquas vs Golden Lions XV (B Field)
09h30 – Golden Lions vs Free State Cheetahs (A Field)
09h30 – Leopards vs Limpopo Blue Bulls (B Field)
11h00 – Border vs Boland (A Field)
11h00 – NWU Valke vs Blue Bulls XV (B Field)
12h30 – SWD Eagles vs Western Province XV (A Field)
12h30 – EP Elephants vs Phakisa Pumas (B Field)
14h00 – Western Province vs Blue Bulls (A Field)
SA Rugby Academy Week match summaries –
The SA LSEN XV had no answer for the in-form Griffons CD, with the team delivering a top-class showing for a rewarding 59-0 victory. Their effective attack and finishing saw them run in an impressive nine tries – with prop Imi Alam and winger Moeketsi Kgongoana each scoring twice – while their effective defence shut out the opposition completely, denying them a point. The team scored a whopping 40 points before the break and added 19 more as the match progressed.
The Blue Bulls XV also dominated their clash against the Golden Lions Academy XV to register a convincing 57-12 victory, which marked their second win of the tournament. Such was their supremacy they cruised to a 31-5 halftime lead and they maintained this hot form in the second half to touch down a rewarding nine times. It was a memorable day for a few Blue Bulls XV players, with Bongani Ndlovu (centre) scoring a hat-trick, and George Van Der Merwe (scrumhalf) and Ruan Venter (No 8) braces.
Namibia registered their first victory of the tournament thanks to a quality performance against Griquas, which saw them win 39-17. The interplay between their forwards and backs was effective and the team did well to create try-scoring chances and convert them. Five players crossed the tryline for Namibia, with flyhalf Geraldo Beukes making a notable contribution with a try, four conversions and two penalty goals for 19 points.
Valke centre Louis De Bruyn was in hot form for his team as they outplayed the Phakisa Pumas 48-29, scoring three of his team’s seven tries. The Valke used their chances in the first half, and this allowed them to bump 26-17 ahead, and they built on this in the second half to touch down seven times in the match. The Phakisa Pumas tried hard to make their presence felt and their efforts earned them four tries, but the opposition were just too good on the day.
Border overcame a tight first half against Griffons to register a 41-27 victory, marking their second win of the tournament. The East London outfit held a slender 19-15 lead at the break, but they found their rhythm later in the game and made their presence felt to outscore the opposition seven tries to four. Border lock Grant Pretorius scored two tries in the match, while another five of his team-mates crossed the tryline in a rewarding team effort.
The SA LSEN team and Griquas CD were involved in a tight tussle, but a strong second-half showing by the LSEN outfit allowing them to overturn a 22-12 deficit for a 36-29 victory. SA LSEN winger Leroy Kiewiet was a key figure for the team as he scored three of their six tries, while Griquas CD scored five – two of which were by No 8 Winston Tuck.
A hat-trick by SWD Eagles flyhalf Berthal September and a brace by winger Royden Jonkers proved vital in the team’s gripping 31-27 victory against the Golden Lions. The match was hard-fought from the outset as both teams threw everything at one another, but SWD edged 12-8 ahead at halftime and managed to hold their nerve in a competitive second half to secure the win. The Johannesburg side scored three tries in the second stanza, but this still left them short on the scoreboard.
SA Rugby Academy Week, Day Four results (Thursday)
Namibia 39-17 Griquas
Griffons CD 59-0 SA LSEN XV
Griquas CD 29-36 SA LSEN
Golden Lions Academy XV 12-57 Blue Bulls XV
Golden Lions 27-31 SWD Eagles
Border 41-27 Griffons
Valke 48-29 Phakisa Pumas
SA Rugby Academy Week, Day Five fixtures (Saturday) –
08h00 – Namibia vs Old Mutual Zimbabwe (GCB A Field)
08h00 – Griquas CD vs Border CD (GCB B Field)
08h00 – EP Elephants CD vs Griffons CD (Windmill A Field)
08h00 – CD vs Phakisa Pumas CD (Windmill B Field)
09h30 – LSEN vs LSEN XV (GCB A Field)
09h30 – EP Elephants vs Phakisa Pumas (GCB B Field)
09h30 – Boland vs Blue Bulls CD (Windmill A Field)
09h30 – Griquas vs Golden Lions Academy (Windmill B Field)
11h00 – Free State Cheetahs vs Valke (GCB A Field)
11h00 – vs SWD (GCB B Field)
11h00 – Golden Lions vs Blue Bulls (Windmill A Field)
11h00 – Leopards vs Western Province CD (Windmill B Field)
12h30 – Western Province vs Border (GCB A Field)
12h30 – Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Griffons (GCB B Field)
Issued by SA Rugby Communication