The Golden Lions and Free State on Thursday threw their names into the hat for a place in the final match of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week on Saturday with commanding wins, while Boland, Blue Bulls and Sharks CD rose to the top in the Coca-Cola Academy Week as they remained unbeaten following their second round of matches.
In the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, the Bidvest Golden Lions defeated the Enrista Blue Bulls 41-14, while Free State thumped the Leopards 86-14 to join DHL Western Province and the Pumas as the only unbeaten teams in the competition going into Saturday’s final round.
In the Coca-Cola Academy Week, meanwhile, Boland beat Namibia 37-28, the Blue Bulls outplayed the Leopards 77-7, and Sharks CD pipped Pumas CD 32-27 to retain their unbeaten status along with DHL Western Province, the Sharks and the SA LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) team.
The fixtures for the final day will be announced on Thursday night, however, Western Province are likely to face the Golden Lions in the final match of the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week.
A combined total of 720 points were scored in the two competitions on Thursday, with 48 tries in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week to contribute to the 329 points scored for the day, while 53 tries and 391 points were scored in the Coca-Cola Academy Week.
In the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week the Golden Lions defeated the Blue Bulls in the final match of the day as their forwards and backs combined well to outplay to their Gauteng neighbours. The Blue Bulls discipline was poor and they conceded four yellow cards during the match, which did not help their cause.
They were denied an early try due to a knock-on on the tryline, but they were forced onto the back-foot for the rest of the half as the Lions created point-scoring chances and used them well to out-score the Bulls two tries to one, while they added two penalty goals for a 20-7 lead. The Blue Bulls tried hard to force their way back into the match in the second half, but the effective Lions attack combined with the Blue Bulls’ struggle to break through the defence regularly and mistakes at crucial times, resulted in the Pretoria side going down 41-14.
Lions centre Wandisile Simelane was again instrumental in the victory as he touched down twice and added five penalties and two penalties for a personal tally of 26 points.
The Free State, meanwhile, delivered a solid display against the Leopards using their pace and skill on attack to break through the defence, while they converted their try-scoring chances into points with ease. They supported this with a tenacious defensive effort, which denied the Potchefstroom team from crossing the chalk until the 49th minute. With the momentum and confidence on the Free State’s side, they built up a 44-0 lead at the break. They continued to make their presence felt in the second half, which paid off, as they cruised to the tryline a remarkable 13 times in the match. The Leopards earned one more try for their determined efforts to take their score into double figures, but had to settle for a disappointing 86-14 defeat.
In the earlier matches, SWD pipped Border 21-19, the Valke defeated the Komati Fruit Limpopo Blue Bulls 43-24 and Eastern Province CD overpowered Border CD 62-5.
The clash between SWD and Border was riveting with the teams throwing everything at one another from start to end. SWD had the first say as they touched down twice in the first 17 minutes to take a 14-0 lead. Border, however, struck back with their first try three minutes later and added another after a yellow card reduced the George side to 14 men, which left them trailing 14-12. Both teams ran hard at one another in the second half, and Border scored first to take the lead, but SWD forced their way into the lead again with their third try, and managed to hold on for the narrow 21-19 lead to secure the win.
The first half between the Valke and Limpopo Blue Bulls was hard-fought. The Limpopo side opened up the scoring with two tries in two minutes, but the Valke tightened up their defence and powered their way back into the match with two tries and a penalty goal.
The Limpopo Blue Bulls, however, had the last say as they crossed the chalk again before the break to level the scores at 17-17. The Valke dominated the second half as they capitalised on their try-scoring chances to run in three tries within seven minutes and added another shortly before the close of the match, which cancelled out the extra points scored by the Limpopo Blue Bulls to secure a 43-24 victory.
The opening exchanges between Eastern Province CD and Border CD were tight as both teams tried to make their presence felt.
Border CD had two early strikes at the goal posts to try to get on the scoreboard, but these attempts were unsuccessful. Eastern Province CD, meanwhile, used their chances well and scored two tries and then took advantage of a yellow card by the opposition to add two more for a handy 26-0 lead at the break. They continued to run the show in the second half and added five tries to their tally, while Border CD crossed the tryline only once four minutes before the final whistle, which saw them go down 62-5.
In the Coca-Cola Academy Week Boland overcame a determined Namibian outfit 37-28 in a nail-biting encounter, which was tight from the outset. Namibia slotted over an early penalty goal, and Boland struck back with a two penalties and a try to take a comfortable lead.
Namibia, however, cancelled this out with two tries before the break, which pushed them into a 17-16 lead. Boland, however, made the most of their point-scoring opportunities in the second half to add two tries in two minutes and another on the stroke of fulltime, which cancelled out Namibia’s two second-half penalties and try. This sealed the 37-28 victory for Boland.
The clash between the Blue Bulls and Leopards, meanwhile, proved to be a one-sided affair as the Pretoria side delivered an effective performance all around, which resulted in the Leopards struggling to make their presence felt. So effective was the Blue Bulls attack, they charged to a 41-7 halftime lead. They continued to run riot on attack when play resumed and increased their try tally to 12 for a satisfying 77-7 victory.
Sharks CD overcame a tough challenge by Pumas CD to hold on for a 32-27 victory in their clash. A solid start by Sharks CD which featured two penalty goals and a converted try in the first 25 minutes, pushed them 20-10 ahead on the scoreboard after the break. They added two more tries in the second half to remain in the driving seat, although a late comeback by Pumas CD left them trailing 32-27 with four minutes left one clock. The local side, however, managed to hold on for the victory.
In the other matches, Eastern Province and the Red Valke played to a 17-17 draw, while GWK Griquas defeated Border CD 43-8 and Free State thumped the Limpopo Blue Bulls 62-21.
Eastern Province and the Red Valke were involved in a tight tussle as neither team gave an inch. An early penalty followed by a try several minutes later put the Port Elizabeth side in the lead, but the Red Valke forced their way over the tryline shortly before halftime to trail 10-7.
The second half was tense with the Valke slotting over two penalty goals, while Eastern Province outscored them two tries to one. The Valke’s inability to slot over their conversions, however, left them having to settle for a 17-17 draw.
A hat-trick by Griquas wing Christopher Andrews and two tries by replacement back Charles Williams, meanwhile, set the Kimberley side up for their rewarding 43-8 victory against Border CD. Such was the high quality of Griquas’ attack they took a 19-3 lead at the break thanks to three tries in 22 minutes, while they added five more after the break and leaked only one try in the match.
The Konica Minolta Free State came out firing in their clash against the Limpopo Blue Bulls, but they allowed the Limpopo side to force their way back into the match in the second quarter, which left them trailing 29-14 at the break.
The Free State side dominated the second half completely as they continued to cross the tryline with ease to accumulate an impressive 10 tries, while they limited the Limpopo side to scoring only seven points in the second half for their 62-21 victory.
The players will have Friday off to rest and recover, which will be followed by the final day’s play on Saturday.
With all 44 teams playing on the final day, the matches will be contested on six fields, four at Kearsney College and two at Glenwood High School.
U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day four results (Thursday, 14 July – Kearsney Stott Field):
Coca-Cola Academy Week day four results (Thursday, 14 July – AH Smith Oval):