The Vodacom Bulls are back at the top of the log in the SA Rugby U20 Cup as the two other contenders to the provincial crown, the Lions and Western Province, played to a 24-all draw in Johannesburg.
After these results, the Bulls (18 points) edge the Lions (17), with WP (14), the Leopards (12) and the Sharks (12) all still firmly in the playoff race. The Free Staters and Eastern Province (who had a bye) have fallen by the wayside.
The Bulls have played five matches, though, and the chasing pack only four, so this weekend’s round-six clashes will even out matters when winless EP entertain the team from Pretoria, the Leopards host the Lions and WP take on the Sharks in Cape Town.
In the past weekend’s action, the Sharks had a stellar second half against the visiting Free State side. They held only a 13-6 lead at the break, but with their pack in full control, added five more tries to their tally.
Sharks hooker Jacques Goosen was again the beneficiary of a rampant driving maul, adding two more tries to his season tally – now standing at six five-pointers – to become the leading try-scorer so far.
A second-half comeback by WP almost had them snatching the win away from the Lions, who were top of the log before this match. The men from Johannesburg were leading 17-7 at the break and then scored early in the second half to move 24-7 ahead, before the Cape side started their comeback.
Junior Bok flank Izan Esterhuizen’s yellow card complicated matters for the Lions, as replacement hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela and replacement prop Jacques Rossouw scored, before wing Rethabile Louw got the bonus point try for the visitors. The conversion was wide, and WP left Johannesburg with their second draw in the competition.
Jurich Claasens had a productive day for the home team, though, with the Lions flyhalf scoring 17 points through two tries, two conversions and a penalty goal to move top of the points’ scoring list with 47 points so far this season.
Eight tries were scored in the match between the Bulls and the Leopards in Pretoria – six of them by the home side – in an entertaining match where the hosts always had the edge.
The Bulls were up 20-10 at the break with three tries to one and the same situation played out in the second half, with the home side scoring three more and the visitors replying with one.
Sharks 46 (15), Free State 18 (6)
Sharks – Tries: Jacques Goosen (2), Enos Ndiao (2), Siya Ningiza, Siviwe Zondani. Conversions: Kian Meadon (3), Brandon Wilkie (2). Penalty goals: Meadon (2).
Free State – Try: Lohan Potgieter. Conversion: Wikus Basson. Penalty goals: Basson (2).
Lions 24 (17), Western Province 24 (7)
Lions – Tries: Jurich Claasens (2), Quan Horn. Conversions: Claasens (2). Penalty Goal: Claasens.
WP – Tries: Jarrod Taylor, Lukhanyo Vokozela, Jacques Rossouw, Rethabile Louw. Conversions: Ethan James, Sacha Mngomezulu.
Bulls 39 (20), Leopards 17 (10)
Bulls – Tries: Enrique Coutriers, Raynard Roets, Cameron Hanekom, FC du Plessis, Tharquinn Manuel, Sonwabo Sokoyi. Conversions: Du Plessis (2), Jandre Burger. Penalty goal: Du Plessis.
Leopards – Tries: Jako Cloete, Samele Zungu. Conversions: Martin Venter (2). Penalty goal: Venter.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images