The U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week and U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week will conclude on a thrilling note at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Friday (14 July) with Western Province meeting Eastern Province in the final match of the U13 tournament, while Western Province will go up against SWD in the U16 competition.
All four teams were unbeaten in the respective Coca-Cola Youth Weeks after four days of rugby in the City of Roses.
In the U13 Week on Thursday, Eastern Province held their nerve in a nail-biting match against the Itec Blue Bulls to win 29-17, while Western Province defeated the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 31-5.
Eastern Province delivered a fine performance on attack and defence against the Itec Blue Bulls to register a well-deserved 29-17 victory. The first half was tight as the teams entered the break at 10-10, but the Eastern Cape outfit broke away in the second half with three back-to-back tries as they snuffed out the gaps in the defence. They also showed fantastic commitment on defence to shut out the Pretoria side, whose only points in the half was a try on the final whistle.
Western Province also produced a quality display against the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions with their forwards and backs combining well to steer the team to a 31-5 victory. The Johannesburg side scored first, but Western Province showed patience on attack and took the ball through phases, while they also showed innovation and skill on attack to score five tries. Their defence was equally effective as they denied the Bidvest Waltons Lions from adding to their points tally.
In the other matches, KZN defeated the Griffons 34-5, Xerox Griquas outplayed Border CD 94-0, the Itec Valke beat the Leopards 20-14, the Free State registered a 41-31 victory against the Pumas, SWD pipped the Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls 24-22 and Boland defeated Border 32-22.
KZN used their speed smartly in their clash against the Griffons as they spread the ball wide throughout the match, while their players navigated their way through and around the defence. This effective game plan earned them six tries, with winger Ntando Zwane scoring three of them, while they produced a solid defensive effort to limit the Griffons to a single try for a 34-5 victory.
Xerox Griquas registered the biggest score of the day as they ran riot on attack against Border CD to cross the tryline 16 times, while they shut out the Eastern Cape side to register a comprehensive 94-0 victory.
The clash between the Itec Valke and Leopards was tight as both teams tried to use their big forwards to force their way onto the front foot. The Itec Valke took a narrow 10-7 lead at the break, and but two second half tries to only one by the Leopards earned them a 20-14 victory.
Free State, meanwhile, survived a strong second-half fightback from the Pumas after leading 36-7 at the break to claim a 41-31 victory. The hosts were in fine form in the first half as they showed fantastic skill on attack, which allowed them to score at will. The Pumas, however, remained composed and forced their way back into the game after the break to finish the match with five tries to the Free State’s seven. But this was too little too late.
SWD staged a dramatic comeback from 12-0 down at the break to pip the Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls 24-22 thanks to four second-half tries. Both sides finished the match with four tries compliments of their enterprising attack, but two successful conversions by SWD to only one by the Limpopo side sealed the victory.
A last-gasp try by Namibia in the dying seconds earned them a 15-10 victory against Old Mutual Zimbabwe in their Test match, in what was a thrilling game as neither side gave an inch. Namibia scored twice in the first half, but Old Mutual Zimbabwe managed to sneak through to the tryline before the break to trail 10-5. They built on this in the opening minutes of the second half with a try in the corner to level the scores. Both teams tried hard to break the deadlock as the match progressed, and this paid off for Namibia in the last play as they snuck over in the corner to win.
Boland delivered a strong second-half showing in a competitive match against Border to register a 32-22 victory. The teams entered the second half tied at 17-17, but the Western Cape side did well to convert their chances into points in the second half to increase their try tally to five, while Boland scored only four tries, three of which were by No 8 Zukisani Tom.
The tournaments will conclude on Friday in a jam-packed day as the U13 and U16 teams will battle it out in the final round of matches.