Eastern Province were crowned unofficial champions of the U18 Craven Week after beating SWD 25-7, writes BRENTON CHELIN in Middelburg.
It was a culmination of a great week of rugby for the side from Port Elizabeth as they ran in three tries on the way to their first victory in the final match since 1977. The legendary Danie Gerber was on the field for EP that day, but it was a new generation of players who showed themselves to be the best U18 team in the land.
The final failed to live up to the hype with Eastern Province dominating the collisions, while SWD were unable to impose themselves physically. The side from the southern Cape were never really in the game, falling behind after lock Adré Smith was sent to the sin bin for a late and dangerous tackle on Junior Pokomela.
Like their match against Free State, Eastern Province blew the opposition away in the first half. They led 20-0 at the break courtesy of tries from Athi Mayinje and Johan van Niekerk, while flyhalf Curwin Bosch added a couple of penalties. Lock Stephanus Niewoudt extended their lead with a try early in the second half, before a consolation try for Dominic Smith rounded out the scoring.
Earlier the Bulls battered the Sharks 36-15, with Waterkloof flyhalf Thinus de Beer racking up 21 points in another composed performance. The win left the side from Pretoria with two wins from three over the week, with their narrow 26-25 loss to EP the only blight on their record.
In the day's first match, the Lions found some semblance of form to see off the Pumas 39-24. The loss meant the hosts went through the week without a win. Monnas flanker Len Massyn grabbed a hat-trick for the Lions as they ran in six tries to ensure they ended the week on a high.
The day's other game was a meeting between two of the pre-tournament favourites, Western Province and Free State. Province raced into a 19-3 lead after 17 minutes before Shirwin Cupido pulled a try back for the Cheetahs as the teams headed in 22-10 at the break. The Cheetahs made a game of it in the second half, but were unable to overturn the half-time deficit, eventually going down 37-29 in a high scoring encounter.
Meanwhile, across town at Hoërskool Middelburg, the Griffons remained the week's only other unbeaten team after seeing off the Leopards 44-24.
A SA Schools trial squad of 50 players will be announced on Monday, with the trials being held in Kempton Park next weekend.
Eastern Province (25) – Tries: Athi Mayinje, Johan van Niekerk, Stephanus Niewoudt. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (2).
SWD (7) – Try: Dominic Smith. Conversion: JT Jackson.
Blue Bulls (36) – Tries: Thinus de Beer (2), Eduan Keyter, Embrose Papier, Aston Fortuin. Conversions: Thinus de Beer (4). Penalty: de Beer.
KwaZulu-Natal (15) – Tries: James Hall. Jacobus Coetzee. Conversion: Tristan Tedder. Penalty: Tedder.
Western Province (37) – Tries: Justin Heunis, Jondré Williams, Duncan Saal (2), Mogamat Davids. Conversions: Tiaan Swanepoel (3). Penalties: Swanepoel (2).
Free State (29) – Tries: Shirwin Cupido, Julian Jordaan (2), de Wet Bezuidenhout. Conversions: Jéandré Christian (3). Penalty: Christian.
Pumas (24) – Tries: Siyabonga Masuku (2), Christian Steinberg, penalty try. Conversions: Sitabonga Masuku (2).
Lions (39) – Tries: Len Massyn (3), Jacobus Holtzhauzen, Gavin Delport, Preston Karstens. Conversions: Ralton October (3). Penalty: October.
Zimbabwe (25) – Tries: Matthew Ushewokunze, Bradley Crause, Daniel Nyamugama, Ackim Sibanda, Conversion: Ngoni Zinyama. Penalty: Shaun Snyder.
Namibia (38) – Tries: Divan Rossouw (2), Jandré van Wyk (2), Herle Otto, Hans Breedt. Conversions: Stiaan van der Merwe (2), Pieter Steenkamp (2).
Griquas (26) – Tries: Robbie Petzer, Wilfred Bowers, Geo Davel, Keaton Gordon. Conversions: Robbie Petzer (3).
Border (55) – Tries: Jason Steyn, Henning Coetzee, David Brits (2), Reinhardt Engelbrecht, Michael Brink, Pierre Bester, Morgan Steyn, Jerry Danquah. Conversions: Morgan Steyn (5).
Griffons (44) – Tries: Jaywinn Juries., Johan van Zyl, Ezrick Alexander, Johann Vermaak (2). Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (5). Penalties: Jaywin Juries (3).
Leopards (24) – Tries: Jana Smith, Roodt van Zyl, Douglas Bruce-Smith, Keanu van der Merwe. Conversions: Markus Coetzer (2).
Griquas CD 60-21 Boland CD
Boland 56-24 Limpopo Blue Bulls
Eastern Province CD 13-35 Valke
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images