The Lions will meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the U21 Championship final after a convincing 54-19 victory over Western Province on Sunday.
The Lions U21s, who entered their final pool match on Sunday in pole position for the remaining spot in the grand finale thanks to a superior points’ difference over the Cheetahs, were committed on attack and defence and their efforts paid off as they scored an impressive seven tries against WP.
The tournament hosts were calm and collected on attack in the first half, launching regular attacking spells, while centre Luke Rossouw was on form with the boot, which saw them build up an encouraging 23-7 halftime lead.
They continued to show their class in the second half, adding five tries to take their tally to seven – with replacement loose forward Francke Horn and scrumhalf Runaldo Pedro earning braces – and with Western Province battling to make their presence felt, the result was never in doubt.
Lions (54) – Tries: Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Francke Horn (2), Ngia Selengbe, Runaldo Pedro (2), Emmanuel Tshituka. Conversions: Luke Rossouw (5). Penalties: Rossouw (3)
Western Province (19) – Tries: Jarrod Taylor, Marcel Theunissen; Penalty Try. Conversion: Christopher Schreuder.
Meanwhile, the defending champions Blue Bulls had already booked their place in the final in their closing pool match last week with an emphatic 72-26 win over the Sharks.
The result not only paved the way for the Pretoria outfit to have a shot at defending their title, it also left them in the comfortable position of being able to sit back this week as the top team on the standings.
In the first match on Sunday, the Free State did well to capitalise on their chances for a rewarding 40-21 victory against the Sharks.
The Cheetah cubs led from the start and outscored their opponents six tries to three for a well-deserved bonus point victory.
Both teams were full of running but also solid on defence, which led to nine tries in the match. While the Sharks’ forwards had the upper hand at times, they did not play with enough patience on attack and often turned the ball over in good positions on the field.
On the contrary, Free State showed more composure, used their opportunities better and hit gaps in the midfield on a few occasions with centre Shayne Bolton leading the charge.
Free State U21 (40) – Tries: Shayne Bolton, Janus Venter, Siyanda Cele, Cohen Jasper, Juandre Sabbat, Conan Le Fleur. Conversions: Charles Williams (4), Franco Smith.
Sharks (21) – Tries: Adam Mountfort, Thaakir Abrahams, DJ Falconer. Conversions: Murray Koster (3).