The U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week tournament started with a bang at St Stithians College in Johannesburg on Monday with a mixture of big scores and tight encounters ensuring a gripping day’s action.
Hosts, the Golden Lions, Free State, DHL Western Province, the Limpopo Blue Bulls and GWK Griquas CD kicked off their campaigns on a winning note, while DHL Western Province the Valke, Eastern Province CD, the Thepa Trading Griffons and the Sharks won their respective matches in the Coca-Cola Academy Week.
The Free State romped to a 12-try victory against Boland to register an emphatic 81-26 victory in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, which was the biggest score of the day across both tournaments, while the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions defeated Border 44-8, the Limpopo Blue Bulls defeated Border CD 41-3 and DHL Western Province, who took top honours last year, beat the Pumas 36-10.
Four tries by Free State centre Henk Cilliers and a solid showing by flyhalf Christopher Schreuder, whose try, nine conversions and penalty goal earned him 26 points, steered the Bloemfontein team to the biggest victory of the day in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week as they cruised to a 81-26 victory against Boland. The Free State outfit produced a solid performance all around and the rewards followed, as they scored 12 tries and limited the Western Cape side to two.
DHL Western Province also made a strong statement with a 36-10 victory against the Pumas thanks to their ability to convert their chances into points. In turn the Pumas struggled to capitalise on their opportunities, which cost them dearly, although they deserve credit for fighting until the end. Such was the Cape side’s dominance, they scored six tries to one by the Pumas, after taking a 19-3 lead at the break.
The first half between hosts, the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions and Border, meanwhile, was tight as both the teams threw everything at one another, resulting in the sides being level at 8-8. A try by the home team on the stroke of halftime after finding space in the midfield, however, earned them a narrow 13-8 lead. The Johannesburg side, however, found their rhythm in the second half and did well to make their way through the gaps in the defence, which earned centre Yanga Hlalu a hat-trick and the team seven tries in total for a convincing 44-8 victory.
GWK Griquas CD built up a 16-10 lead against the Tshepa Trading Griffons as they scored three penalty goals and a converted try in the first half, while the opposition scored two unconverted tries. They added two more tries after the break, while the Tshepa Trading Griffons added three, but their superior goal kicking by GWK Griquas CD flyhalf Iwan Lombard earned them the narrow 28-27 win.
The Limpopo Blue Bulls used their powerful forwards to lay a solid foundation for the backs to attack and they ran hard at Border CD throughout the clash, which allowed them to secure a 41-3 victory. The first half was close with Limpopo taking a 12-3 lead as Border CD retained possession and managed to work their way into the Limpopo Blue Bulls’ half, but the solid defence shut them out. The Limpopo side, however, broke away in the second half and scored seven tries in the match for the convincing victory.