Eastern Province swept Free State aside with a scintillating display of attacking rugby on day four of the U18 Craven Week, reports BRENTON CHELIN in Middelburg.
They will play in Saturday's main game for the first time in almost a decade and there could be no arguments about their appearance after this display. Having snuck past the Blue Bulls on day two, they showed great intensity up front and enterprising backline play to set up a 19-5 victory over the boys from Bloemfontein.
Curwin Bosch was instrumental yet again, while his supporting cast of Jeremy Ward and Keanu Vers deserve honourable mentions. As does Junior Pokomela, the skillful eighthman whose delightful offload helped set up their second try. SWD await in the final match on Saturday as two of the smaller unions will close out Craven Week for the first time since the Pumas beat Boland 19-18 in 2000.
The day's penultimate game was an instantly forgettable Jukskei derby between the Blue Bulls and Golden Lions. In the end the boys from Pretoria did enough to see off their rivals 21-10, although in truth it was a game sorely lacking in quality. The Lions were diabolical at times with poor decision-making, handling errors and sloppy work at the breakdown contributing to their downfall.
Earlier in the day, Griquas flyhalf Robbie Petzer racked up 23 points in his team's 38-27 win against Boland. The boys from Kimberley led from start to finish although both teams contributed to what was an entertaining affair.
The match that followed was a welcome relief from the one-sided contests seen throughout the week, especially between the smaller unions. The Leopards and Valke served up a gritty encounter which hung in the balance right until the final whistle. In the end it was the Leopards that overturned a seven-point half-time deficit to claim a 26-20 victory, thanks in part to another impressive showing from centre Markus Coetzer.
In the first game of the day, Border CD were once again on the receiving end of a heavy defeat, going down 69-0 to Namibia. Having lost 96-0 to Griquas on day two, the noticeably smaller Border CD side were simply no match for the imposing visitors from across the border, shipping 11 tries as they were outclassed once again.
Free State (5) – Try: Julian Jordaan.
Eastern Province (19) – Tries: Keanu Vers, Athi Mayinje, Darren Lottering. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2).
Blue Bulls (21) – Tries: Juandré Michau, Ruan de Beer, Stedman Gans. Conversions: Thinus de Beer (3).
Golden Lions (10) – Try: Constant Beckerling. Conversion: Ralton October. Penalty: Wikus van Biljoen.
Leopards (26) – Tries: Markus Coetzer, Brenden Esterhuizen. Conversions: Markus Coetzer (2). Penalties: Coetzer (4).
Valke (20) – Tries: Darren de Bruin, Erich Cronjé. Conversions: Forrest Roos (2). Penalties: Roos (2).
Boland (27) – Tries: Iver Aanhuizen, Handré Ontong, Conal Brown, Pierre-André Gouws. Conversions: Adriaan van der Bank (2). Penalty: Van der Bank.
Griquas (38) – Tries: Gerhard Holtzhauzen, JP Abrahams, Brandon de Melim, Robbie Petzer. Conversions: Robbie Petzer (3). Penalties: Petzer (4).
Namibia (69) – Tries: Stefan Potgieter, Divan Rossouw (2), PW Steenkamp, Milan van Wyk (2), Umassa Kavita, Jandré du Toit, Adriaan Booysen (3). Conversions: PW Steenkamp (4), Stiaan van der Merwe (2), Adriaan Booysen.
Border CD (0)
Final day fixtures
08:30 Pumas vs Lions
09:50 Western Province vs Free State
11:10 KwaZulu-Natal vs Blue Bulls
12:45 SWD vs Eastern Province
08:30 Zimbabwe vs Namibia
09:50 Griquas vs Border
11:10 Griffons vs Leopards
08:30 Griquas CD vs Border CD
09:50 Boland vs Limpopo Blue Bulls
11:10 Eastern Province CD vs Valke
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images