The return of the U18 Craven Week after a two-year absence was celebrated with a barrage of tackles, side-steps, counter-attacks and tries across four matches in Rondebosch on Monday.
No less than 30 tries were scored with the two sides from host union Western Province, in particular, in dazzling form. WP scored five tries in a pulsating win over Border, while Western Province XV dazzled the crowd with 10 tries in a 65-7 victory over Boland.
Earlier, the Sharks side outplayed Valke 33-12 and, in the opening match of the tournament, Griquas and Eastern Province delivered an exhilarating performance as the boys from Kimberley secured a 39-22 win.
The opening match yielded eight tries as Griquas outscored EP four tries to nil for a 27-3 lead at the break, but then the EP side came back strongly. They scored three late tries in a desperate rally to overhaul the deficit, helped by a red card to Griquas for a reckless ruck entry, but the Kimberley boys had the last say with a breakaway try to seal the match.
The Sharks vs Valke match was a more direct affair with both sides trying to outmuscle the other. The Sharks held a 12-5 lead at the break and ultimately outscored the Gauteng side three tries to two as flyhalf Deano Boesak’s accuracy off the tee proved the difference.
WP XV were just too slick for their Cape neighbours Boland, with fullback Jandre Genis bagging 25 points to become the leading points- scorer on day one.
In the final match of the day, the WP team started like a house on fire, scoring two quick tries before Border found their feet in defence and answered back with two penalty goals.
The Province pack were in command, though, and a third try was never far away to be eventually scored by centre Jameel de Jongh. Border kept plugging away and a try by flank Tiaan Jacobs earned them some reward and a 22-11 scoreline at the break.
WP scored soon after the restart on the counter via wing Luke Graham, before Border had a try disallowed and conceded another when Graham charged a kick and raced away to score with nine minutes to play.
There was no return for Border after that, but trailing 34-11, flank Michael Maseti showed great strength to crash over through a heap of Province defenders for a late consolation touchdown.
Results (Day 1):
Eastern Province 22 Griquas 39
The Sharks 33 Valke 5
Western Province XV 65 Boland 7
Western Province 34 Border 18
Fixtures (Day 2):
10:25am: Pumas vs Limpopo Blue Bulls
11:55am: Griffons vs Leopards
1:25pm: South-Western Districts vs Free State Cheetahs
2:55pm: Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions