EP, Free State set up showdown

Eastern Province and Free State picked up vital wins on day two of the Coca-Cola Craven Week, reports BRENTON CHELIN in Middelburg.

The Free State eased to a 33-20 win over the Golden Lions in the day's final match. It was a game that they never looked like losing, despite finding themselves 10-3 down after 25 minutes. A try from Free State scrumhalf Shirwin Cupido meant the teams went in level at the break and the side from Bloem went on to dominate the second half. The Lions produced an error-strewn performance after half-time and a lack of discipline would let them down in the end. Grey College fullback Lourens Steenkamp added three penalties before Victor Maruping sealed the win late on.

In the earlier match, Grey PE flyhalf Curwin Bosch was the hero as he slotted a touchline conversion to give Eastern Province a thrilling come-from-behind 26-25 victory over the Blue Bulls.

Having trailed 16-6 at half-time, the talented 17-year-old scored a superb solo try to bring Eastern Province back into the match. Waterkloof flyhalf Thinus de Beer grabbed 20 points for the Bulls only to be overshadowed by the impressive Bosch, who grabbed 21 points of his own in a Man of the Match performance. They are now set to face the Free State in the main game on Thursday.

Griquas got the day underway with a 96-0 demolition of the Border Country Districts side, running in 14 tries in a lopsided encounter. Griquas flyhalf, Gerco Nortje, just missed out on the chance to equal the Craven Week record for the most points in a match. He ended on 36 points thanks to two tries and 13 conversions, two shy of the record set by André Esterhuizen for the Leopards against Border CD in 2011.

This was followed by the Leopards' 53-13 win over Nambia where Leopards centres Stefan van Vuuren and Markus Coetzer caught the eye as they bagged three tries between them. Coetzer was named Man of the Match after notching up 26 points courtesy of two tries, five conversions and a penalty.

In the day's other match, the Valke ground out a 30-26 win over a determined Boland outfit.

Golden Lions (20) – Tries: Gavin Delport, Armandt Grobler. Conversions: Wikus van Biljoen (2). Penalties: Van Biljoen (2).
Free State (33) – Tries: Alexander Jonker, Shirwin Cupido, Victor Maruping. Conversions: Lourens Steenkamp (2). Penalties: Steenkamp (4).

Eastern Province (26) – Tries: Curwin Bosch, Attenkosi Mayinje. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (4).
Blue Bulls (25) – Try: Etteinne Matthys. Conversion: Thinus de Beer. Penalties: De Beer (6).

Boland (26) – Tries: Conal Brown, Earl Dowrie, Adriaan de Waal, Andre Pierre Gouws. Conversions: Fabio Africa (3)
Valke (30) – Tries: Martin van Wyk, Jimmy Mpailane, Marco Janse van Vuuren. Conversions: Forrest Roos (3). Penalties: Forrest Roos (3).

Leopards (53) – Tries: Garann Kriek, Stefan van Vuuren, Edmund Rheede, Thabiso Khanye, Markus Coetzer (2), Thabang Phatudi, Gerhard Steenkamp. Conversions: Markus Coetzer (5). Penalty: Coetzer.
Namibia (13) – Try: Armando van Wyk. Conversion: PW Steenkamp. Penalties: PW Steenkamp (2)

Griquas (96) – Tries: JD Swanepoel (2), Daniello Huyster (2), Rikus Swart, Brandon van Melim, Leon Becker, Hugo Gloucester, JP Abrahams (2), Gerco Nortjé (2), Wilfred Bowers. Conversions: Gerco Nortjé (13).
Border CD (0) – None.

Fixtures Day 3

10:10 – Zimbabwe vs Griquas CD
11:30 – Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Border
12:50 – Griffons vs EP CD
14:10 – Pumas vs KwaZulu-Natal
15:30 – Western Province vs SWD

Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images