The Sharks scored two tries in each half to beat the Blue Bulls 40-27 in the U19 Championship final on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports from Newlands.
In sweltering Cape heat, the Sean Everitt-coached Sharks made the most of their opportunities to finish the competition unbeaten and claim the trophy.
It was a game played at a terrific pace, with the Bulls opening the scoring through a try from centre Jay Cee Nel, before flyhalf Vaughen Isaacs and Sharks scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba traded penalties.
The men from Durban then applied the pressure, taking a couple of tighthead scrums that allowed flyhalf Henry Chamberlain the space to go over for their first try and level the scores at 10-10.
The Bulls were brightest after the short water break, with captain Jaco Labuschagne running a perfect line on to a flat pass from scrumhalf Rudolf Viviers to dive in under the posts.
However, the Sharks would just not go down and Currie Cup-capped lock JJ van der Mescht produced a moment of magic. The former Glenwood pupil read a Bulls attack perfectly to intercept before exchanging passes with loosehead James Scott and running a good 40m. He then offloaded to second-row partner Lappies Labushagne, who had the pace to round off a brilliant try.
Nohamba kicked his second penalty to give the Sharks the lead for the first time in the match, before Isaacs responded to make it 20-20 at half-time.
A drop goal from Chamberlain put the Sharks ahead shortly after the break and Scott then showed his strength to carry a number of Bulls’ tacklers over the line with him as he scored their third.
The Sharks had the better of the second half, but some rather elementary lineout errors, combined with a spot of ill-discipline, prevented them from taking full advantage of their territory.
They did, however, get a fourth, when Vian Fourie muscled his way over from close range, but the Bulls gave themselves something to fight for with replacement Eric du Preez reaching over to make it a 10-point game on the final 10 minutes.
The Bulls forced the Sharks into defensive mode in the closing stages of the match, but gave away a turnover penalty in their own 22 after a Sharks counter-attack, which Nohamba kicked to all but seal the result.
Blue Bulls U19 – Tries: Jay-Cee Nel, Jaco Labuschagne, Eric du Preez. Conversions: Vaughen Isaacs (3). Penalties: Isaacs (2).
Sharks U19 – Tries: Henry Chamberlain, Jeandre Jasbushagne, James Scott, Vian Fourie. Conversions: Samele Nohamba (4). Penalties: Nohamba (3). Drop goal: Chamberlain.
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) October 27, 2018
Blue Bulls U19 – 15 Ruben Beytell, 14 Sebastiaan Jobb, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Jay Cee Nel, 11 Rune Lucas, 10 Vaughen Isaacs, 9 Rudolf Viviers, 8 Carl Els, 7 Jaco Labuschagne (c), 6 Phillip Potgieter, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Dawid Mering, 3 Keanu Prinsloo, 2 Llewellyn Classen, 1 Wiehan Bezuidenhout.
Subs: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Dewald Donald, 18 Xavier Haupt, 19 Orateng Koikanyang, 20 Romeo Eksteen, 21 Luke Rossouw, 22 Qamani Kota, 23 Gerrit du Preez.
Sharks U19 – 15 Thaakir Abrahams, 14 Caleb Dingaan, 13 Muller du Plessis, 12 Murray Koster, 11 Le Roux Malan, 10 Henry Chamberlain, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi (c), 7 Dyan Richardson, 6 Vian Fourie, 5 JJ van der Mescht, 4 Lappies Labushagne, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 James Scott.
Subs: 16 Cole Haggard, 17 Charles Staples, 18 Dre Engelbrecht, 19 Ignacio Vidal, 20 Adam Mountford, 21 Matthew Doyle, 22 Donald Falconer, 23 Onke Jiba.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images