The Blue Bulls scored a try in the closing stages to beat the Western Province XV 36-34 at the U18 Craven Week in Bloemfontein on Thursday. DYLAN JACK reports.
A try in the final five minutes of the match gave the Bulls a narrow victory, after they had trailed by 19 points at the break following a rather one-sided first half. The Bulls will now face Western Province’s A side in the unofficial final of the tournament, after both side progressed unbeaten after their two games.
For a long part of this game, it looked as if the WP XV were set to seal another upset, as they controlled the first half and punished the Bulls’ errors through braces from Javier Farmer and Ishma-eel Safodien. However, their overall squad deficiencies were exposed in the second half as they ran out of gas and conceded a try in the closing stages of the contest.
As they did against the Golden Lions, the WP XV started with all the early possession and territory and took an early lead through a Kian Meadon penalty. The Bulls levelled matters as Wickus Basson coverted a penalty of his own, but were behind their own posts shortly after as WP won the ball off the kick-off and Farmer stepped through a couple of tackles for the opening try.
The Pretoria team again levelled the scores when Basson sprinted through a massive gap in the Province defence for a self-converted try. WP regained the lead when scrumhalf Safodien scored from behind a 5m scrum.
Kian Meadon was once again at the heart of things for the WP XV, with the Paarl Boys’ High student’s kicking game forcing the Bulls to attack from deep. He played a big role in WP’s second try as he put Stephan du Toit through a gap with the centre passing on his inside to see Safodien grab his brace. Safodien then turned provider as his chip over the top was gathered by Farmer, who had too much pace for the chasing Bulls defenders, putting his team 29-10 up at the break.
The Bulls came out firing in the second half and quickly reduced the score through wing Geraldo Flusk. Bulls captain Raynard Roets then managed to ground the ball over the line despite the attention of several defenders to make it a seven-point match.
However, WP hooker Keegan Blanckenburg broke from a maul and went on a typical barnstorming run, reaching over to extend their lead. The Bulls wouldn’t give in, though, and made it a five-point game through an excelllent try from Austin-John Johnson. The WP XV started to run out of gas in the closing stages and were punished when Flusk dotted down for his second try, before nailing an awkward conversion.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Wickus Basson, Geraldo Flusk (2), Raynard Roets, Austin-John Johnson. Conversions: Basson (2), Flusk. Penalty: Basson.
Western Province XV – Tries: Javier Farmer (2), Ishma-eel Safodien (2), Keegan Blanckenburg. Conversions: Kian Meadon (3). Penalty: Meadon.
Blue Bulls – 15 Geraldo Flusk, 14 Bradley Mayekiso, 13 Zeilinga Strydom, 12 Austin-John Johnson, 11 Hope Sandisiwe, 10 Wickus Basson, 9 Rowan Cloete, 8 Willie Potgieter, 7 Simon Miller, 6 Guy Kibongo, 5 Raynard Roets (c), 4 Kabelo Machimana, 3 Sbewu Fipaza, 2 Enrique Courtiers, 1 Nolan Pienaar.
Subs: 16 Jacques-Louis du Toit, 17 Dima Lebelo, 18 Gerhard van der Merwe, 19 Chris Kamffer, 20 MJ Janse van Rensburg, 21 Jurich Classens, 22 Nsuku Baloyi, 23 Malcolm Langa.
Western Province XV – 15 Cade Croy, 14 Rethabile Louw, 13 Tiaan Swanepoel, 12 Stephan du Toit, 11 Javier Farmer, 10 Kian Meadon, 9 Ishma-eel Safodien, 8 Jarod Cairns, 7 Jacques Mostert, 6 Stass Nel, 5 Louw Nel, 4 Enos Niao, 3 Phil Masango, 2 Keegan Blanckenburg, 1 Henko Smuts.
Subs: 16 Liam Compion, 17 Lamla Nunu, 18 Corne Weilbach, 19 Armand Maritz, 20 Heath Jacobs, 21 Chucky Ismail, 22 Ebenezer Tshimanga, 23 Dalvon Blood.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images