A number of close encounters, a draw and impressive wins for Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions and DHL Western Province highlighted Day Two of the Under-16 SA Rugby Grant Khomo Week at HS Rob Ferreira in White River on Wednesday.
The Cape side scored six sublime tries in their win over Free State Cheetahs, while Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions outplayed the EP Elephants to remain two of only three unbeaten sides. The SWD Eagles, meanwhile, played to two thrilling draws against the Free State Cheetahs and Sharks on Monday and Wednesday respectively, meaning they too have not yet tasted defeat.
As with the SWD versus Sharks clash, a number of matches went down to the wire, which made for exciting match-ups on the second day of the age group competition.
Two first-half tries were the order of the day in Old Mutual Zimbabwe's 10-0 win over Border Country Districts, with those proving to be the only points in the match. The victory marked their first in the tournament.
The clash between Border and Thepa Trading Griffons was also close, with the coastal side sneaking to a 13-8 win. In the end two penalty goals by Border centre, Riego Heath, proved the difference between the sides. Both scored a try each in the first half, with Heath's penalty goals on either side of the half handing them the win.
In a historic first win for the SA Iqhawe team, the newcomers pipped Namibia 23-20. It was a match characterised by ebbs and flows, with the Iqhawe team starting like a house on fire as they dominated the opening half to take a comfortable 15-3 lead at the break.
Namibia clawed their way back into the match in the second half and scored near the end to tie the scores at 20-20. But the SA Iqhawe team slotted over a crucial penalty goal. The Namibians dominated the final couple of minutes, but they were unable to get the winning try.
The match-makers had it spot on as the Leopards and Valke clash proved hugely competitive.
The North Westers won 22-19 thanks to a penalty goal by replacement-flyhalf, JP Klue, but it could have gone either way. The Valke, however, did not do themselves any favours with their ill-discipline, which earned them two yellow cards.
At halftime play was level at 14-14, with both sides scoring two converted tries, and it was the same story in the second half, as they each added one. A red card for the Valke in the 55th minute, however, did not assist their cause, and when Klue kicked the final points, it sealed the victory.
The Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions and EP Elephants continued the theme of entertaining the crowd and keeping them on the edge of their seats. The Gauteng team won 29-17 thanks to a strong first half effort which pushed them 19-0 up at the break.
EP came back strongly in the second spell, outplaying their opponents 17-10, but that counted for little as their first half effort was not good enough.
Boland scored a solid 30-20 win over Ford Human Griquas, with five tries to two telling of the edge they had over their Northern Cape rivals.
The Boland team started well and their 18-10 lead at the break was good value for their early efforts.
They kept up the pace in the second half, with flanker Ghudian van Reenen playing a blinder and scoring two tries, along with winger Keanu Philander.
The match between SWD and the Sharks ended in a 20-20 draw, which was in many ways a fair result as neither team deserved to lose. The Sharks had a strong first half on attack, with SWD using the accurate goal-kicking of scrumhalf, Neil le Roux, as their first option for points.
Le Roux had them 6-0 up, but two good tries by the KZN opened up a considerable lead and they were sitting pretty at 17-6 when the teams changed sides.
SWD did most of the running in the second half and scored a converted try to claw their way back. The Sharks then kicked a penalty goal to give them breathing space, but a sustained attack by SWD saw them work their way over in the corner with time almost up.
The draw depended on Le Roux’s conversion, and his kick from the touchline split the uprights to even the scores.
DHL Western Province had too much in their arsenal for the Free State Cheetahs, winning 44-12. Their speedy backline and the good interplay with their mobile pack of forwards had the Free Staters tackling thin air at times. Such was their dominance they led 31-5 at halftime.
Free State made a brief recovery in the second half, but there was always going to be one winner. In fact, based on this performance, it may be hard for anyone topple the Cape side when the final matches are played on Friday. Their six tries were all sublime, and Keagan Smith scored his second hat-trick in as many matches.
The Limpopo Blue Bulls outplayed Everest Wealth Pumas XV 26-7, mainly to their first half blitz over their rivals. The Limpopo team dominated proceedings in the first half, leading 26-0 at the break, thanks to their four tries. Credit to the home team, however, as they never stopped trying and were rewarded with the only score in the second half through a converted try.
The Blue Bulls defeated Phakisa Pumas in the final match of the day, easing to a 38-17 win.
The home side made a good fight of it though, oftening troubling the team in blue with eager play on attack. The Pretoria team, however, kept their defensive play organised and were also solid on attack, which saw them score through their backs and forwards - often via their effective rolling maul and the storming runs of prop Mayman Thansville.
The teams will enjoy a rest day on Thursday, with the Under-13 SA Rugby Craven Week teams taking centre stage once again.
The matches will be live streamed here as well as on the SA Rugby Youth Weeks Facebook page.
Under-16 SA Rugby Grant Khomo Week Day Two results:
Limpopo Blue Bulls 26-7 Everest Wealth Pumas XV
Old Mutual Zimbabwe 10-0 Border Country Districts
SA Iqhawe 23-20 Namibia
Border 13-8 Thepa Trading Griffons
Leopards 22-19 Valke
SWD 20-20 Sharks
Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 29-17 EP Elephants
Boland Human 30-20 Ford Griquas
DHL Western Province 44-16 Free State Cheetahs
Blue Bulls 38-17 Phakisa Pumas
Under-13 SA Rugby Craven Week Day Three fixtures (Thursday, 27 June):
09h00: Boland v EP Elephants
10h00: Leopards v ITS Valke
11h00: Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls v Phakisa Pumas
12h00: Itec Griquas v Itec Blue Bulls
13h00: DHL Western Province v SWD
14h00: Sharks v Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions
15h00: Free State Cheetahs v Border Country Districts
16h00: Thepa Trading Griffons v Border
17h00: Old Mutual Zimbabwe v Namibia
Issued by SA Rugby Communications