Vodacom Blue Bulls continue to dominate SA Rugby U21 Championship
The Vodacom Blue Bulls scored an impressive 19-0 bonus point win over the Toyota Free State at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Thursday, as they remained the only unbeaten side after two rounds of the SA Rugby Under-21 Championship, while the Xerox Lions proved too slick for the Cell C Sharks, beating them 32-16.
The Pretoria team scored their second consecutive bonus point win against the Free Staters, who started the competition with a good victory on Sunday, while the Cell C Sharks were slow out of the blocks after their first round bye as they went down to the tournament hosts earlier in the day.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls now take on the Xerox Lions in round three on Monday, while in the early match-up, the Cell C Sharks will be looking to rebound against DHL Western Province, who had a bye today. Toyota Free State have a break on Monday.
Both matches are scheduled to be live streamed by SuperSport on their DSTV Now platform (channel 245).
Xerox Lions 32 (8), Cell C Sharks 16 (6)
The Xerox Lions scored a much-needed win against the Cell C Sharks in the opening match of the day, outscoring their coastal rivals by three tries to one.
It was a match full of errors, with referee Morné Ferreira penalizing both teams for repeated infringements, especially around the rucks.
The Cell C Sharks started best, and their first attack yielded results. The home side was penalized for offside play at the breakdown and Boeta Chamberlain (flyhalf) slotted the opening penalty goal to give his side a 3-0 lead within five minutes of play.
The Xerox Lions hardly touched the ball in the first 10 minutes of the match and got their best scoring opportunity after 15 minutes, when they were first ruled short of the tryline and then missed an attacking lineout.
Chamberlain added his second following another breakdown penalty, with the pivot slotting the kick from just inside his half for a 6-0 lead after 18 minutes. Cell C Sharks head coach, Phiwe Nomlomo, must have been smiling at that stage, but that was about to change.
The Xerox Lions had a sniff just after the first water break, but Marc Morrison (flyhalf) struck the upright with his penalty attempt.
But the men from Johannesburg were changing gears and from a rolling maul two minutes later, Cal Smid scored his first try of the competition, delivering a powerful burst from close range to score. The conversion was unsuccessful.
The remainder of the half delivered a mixed bag for both sides. The ill-discipline at the breakdown kept Ferreira busy and some erratic handling by both teams spurned promising attacks on either side. The home side took the lead before the break, courtesy of a Luke Rossouw (centre) penalty goal.
That lasted only a short while though as Chamberlain landed another penalty goal to put his side back into a 9-8 lead early in the second half.
The Xerox Lions were starting to put their coastal foes – a man down due to a yellow card – under pressure but fluffed another opportunity close to the Cell C Sharks’ line when they lost possession.
After yet another penalty for an arriving player going off his feet at the ruck, Rossouw kicked his side back into the lead with his second penalty goal, a lead the home side would not surrender again.
Rossouw extended the lead with a long-range effort to put his team 14-9 up and when Prince Nkabinde scored two minutes later, the Cell C Sharks were suddenly on dry ground.
An attempted chip kick by Chamberlain was charged down, the ball was kicked by Nkabinde and the Xerox Lions wing raced 50m to score. This handed them a 19-9 lead, soon to be extended by another Rossouw penalty goal.
The visitors from KwaZulu-Natal finally managed some error-free phases and Caleb Dingaan scored their first try with minutes remaining. The former Junior Bok wing took a nice inside pass from Rynhardt Jonker (replacement flyhalf), with the conversion giving them a glimmer of hope.
A fifth Rossouw penalty goal sealed the deal though and after a strong burst by Ngia Selengebe (wing), Runaldo Pedro (scrumhalf) added a well-deserved third try to his team’s tally that sealed the 32-16 win.
Xerox Lions – Tries: Cal Smid, Prince Nkabinde, Runaldo Pedro. Conversion: Jordan Hendrikse. Penalty goals: Luke Rossouw (5).
Cell C Sharks – Try: Caleb Dingaan. Conversion: Rynhardt Jonker. Penalty goals: Boeta Chamberlain (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls 19 (7), Toyota Free State 0 (0)
Brimming with confidence from their opening round victories, the evenly-matched Vodacom Blue Bulls and Toyota Free State teams’ defences held sway in the early part of the match, and in the first 20 minutes, neither team gave an inch.
The Free Staters conceded a yellow card though after 23 minutes following a high tackle by Gustav Meyer (flanker) and that gave the Vodacom Blue Bulls the momentum they needed as they started to attack from all angles. The men from Bloem were hands on hips soon afterwards as the tempo started to take its toll on the players.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls were rewarded for their renewed vigour with a first kickable penalty after 26 minutes of play, but Ruben Beytell (flyhalf) could not convert the pressure into points though.
A dust-up resulted in two more cards, with Janko Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls lock) and Johan Schutte (Toyota Free State prop) shown yellow. The Bloem side then conceded another yellow when Pierre Uys (lock) pulled down a lineout drive.
This resulted in an inevitable maul try for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, with Janco Uys (hooker) dotting down at the back of a bulldozing pack. Beytell converted to give the Pretoria side a 7-0 lead at the break.
The second half proved more of the same. The men in blue kept the ball amongst their forwards while Uys was off the field, but that delivered no short-term results. Instead, the Free Staters almost scored, but spilled the ball near the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ line.
Part of that comeback was due to some ill-discipline by the Pretoria team, who gave away a number of penalties, helping Toyota Free State to get good field positions to attack from.
The slow poison handed out in heaps in the latter part of the first half was starting to work for the Vodacom Blue Bulls though. Richard Kriel made a telling break in a flowing backline move, but the fullback was overhauled just short of the Free State line.
The men in blue jerseys were getting confident with ball in hand and in another flowing attack, where a number of players offloaded at the right time, Uys darted 30m to dive over in the corner for his second try.
David Coetzer (replacement back) kicked a beauty from the touchline to extend the lead to 14 points, but then missed a long range effort with the water break looming.
Toyota Free State – hard as they tried – could not work themselves into a try-scoring position and it was rather the Vodacom Blue Bulls who struck just before the end. Kriel made a strong run and when Bernard van der Linde (replacement scrumhalf) took the final pass to score in the corner, the bonus point try was the reward.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Janco Uys (2), Bernard van der Linde. Conversions: Ruben Beytell, David Coetzer.
Toyota Free State – 0.
Third round fixtures for Monday (12 October):
DHL Western Province v Cell C Sharks
Referee: Egon Seconds
Xerox Lions v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Referee: Divan Uys
Bye: Toyota Free State
Issued by SA Rugby Communications