Eastern Province and the Valke on Thursday stayed in the running for a possible place in the final match of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week on Saturday as they fought their way to victories on Day Four at the Markötter Sports Complex at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch.
Eastern Province, who came out tops in last year’s tournament, registered a nail-biting 23-22 victory against KwaZulu-Natal in a gripping clash, in which two players received red cards.
The clash between Eastern Province and KwaZulu-Natal was hard-fought as the teams threw everything at one another on attack and defence, which resulted in the clash resembling the intensity of a Test match. This despite the fact that the Durban side were dealt a big blow in the 31st minute as they were reduced to 14 men due to a red card for a dangerous tackle.
KwaZulu-Natal opened up the scoring in the 16th minute with a penalty by Bader Pretorius to take a 3-0 lead. A yellow card for the Durban side in the 23rd minute, however, paved the way for Eastern Province to score the first try of the match to push them into a 7-3 lead. KwaZulu-Natal, however, were dealt another blow as a red card for a dangerous tackle reduced them to 13 players briefly. In-form Eastern Province flyhalf Curwin Bosch pushed the team into a 10-3 lead shortly before the break thanks to well-timed drop goal.
They added their second try of the match in the 37th minute compliments of Heino Bezuidenhout, which Bosch backed up with another drop goal to stretch their lead. The Durban side, however, fought back with intent with Marco Palvie scoring a try, and Bader Pretorius adding another shortly after Eastern Province were reduced to 14 players, which reduced the deficit on the scoreboard to 17-15.
Two long-distance penalties by Bosch, however, pushed his team 23-15 ahead. Eastern Province, however, were again reduced to 14 men in the 73rd minute after a second yellow-card offence, which KwaZulu-Natal capitalised on to score a try on the stroke of fulltime. Unfortunately the conversion still left them one point short on the scoreboard at 23-22.
Eastern Province 23 (10) KwaZulu-Natal 22 (3)
- Eastern Province – Tries: Khewzi Mafu, Heino Bezuidenhout. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Curwin Bosch (2). Drop Goal: Curwin Bosch.
- KwaZulu-Natal – Tries: Bader Pretorius, Marco Palvie (2). Conversions: Bader Pretorius (2). Penalty: Bader Pretorius.
The Valke showed fantastic flair on attack in a strong second-half showing to outplay Griquas 34-21, which marked their second victory of the tournament.
So closely matched were the teams in the first half only one point separated the teams on the scoreboard, with Griquas leading 18-17.
But the Valke’s attacking prowess handed them an edge as they outscored Griquas five tries to two to secure their second victory in the tournament.
The Valke started the clash strongly with a try in the 12th minute, but Griquas struck back with a penalty by Gert Nortje and a try. The teams each scored another try as the half progressed, while Nortje added his second penalty to push Griquas ahead by one point on the scoreboard.
The Valke, however, broke away in the second half as they scored three more tries, while limiting Griquas to a drop goal to secure a 34-21 victory.
Valke 34 (17) Griquas 21 (18)
- Valke – Tries: Xander Crause, Irvin Ali, Damon Karelse, Dylan Van der Walt. Conversions: Xander Crause (3). Penalty: Xander Crause.
- Griquas – Tries: Cameron Huffke (2). Conversion: Gert Nortje. Penalties: Gert Nortje (2). Drop Goal: Gert Nortje.
In the other matches SWD defeated the Golden Lions 28-19, while Eastern Province CD overpowered Zimbabwe 51-20 and the Leopards pipped Griquas CD 18-17.
The teams will have Friday off to recover from the physical rugby in the last few days, with the final round of matches being played on Saturday.
The fixtures are set to be announced later on Thursday, with Eastern Province, the Valke, Western Province and Boland in the running for places in the grand finale of the tournament.
Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day-four results:
- Eastern Province 23 – 22 KwaZulu-Natal
- Valke 34 – 21 Griquas
- SWD 28 – 19 Golden Lions
- Zimbabwe 20 – 51 Eastern Province CD
- Griquas CD 17 – 18 Leopards
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