Sport

UNDER-18 RUGBY

South Western Districts and Blue Bulls lay down a marker at Craven Week

South Western Districts and Blue Bulls lay down a marker at Craven Week
Joel Leotlela of the Golden Lions attempts to break a tackle in the Craven Week match against the Blue Bulls on day two of the SA Rugby under-18 Craven Week at Rondebosch Boys High School in Cape Town on 5 July 2022. (Photo: Shaun Roy / BackpagePix)

The Blue Bulls showed their strength and South Western Districts humbled Free State on day two of the 2022 Craven Week.

Despite the chilly weather in Rondebosch, Cape Town, day two of Craven Week was filled with exciting running rugby by all the under-18 sides gathered from around South Africa. 

The Pumas opened the day with a solid 41-14 win over Limpopo Blue Bulls. Fullback Philasande Ntshapela ran the show from the back with his wicked sidestep and deft hands as he put his teammates away and dotted down an excellent individual try himself.  

A blitzkrieg early onslaught by the Griffons in game two helped them conquer a plucky Leopards side 38-15 after leading 31-3 at halftime. The Leopards showed more composure and discipline in the second half, but the game was already lost when the halftime whistle went. 

The possible upset of the week came in game three of the day when South Western Districts gave the highly rated Free State side a lesson in controlled aggression. 

Free State held a slim 14-11 lead at halftime, but SWD played with a sense of calmness and freedom while Free State conceded penalty after penalty, as well as being marched back several times for dissent as their frustrations grew.

The team from the Southern Cape had dominance in their forward pack as they battered Free State in the scrums and lineouts, giving their backs the time and space to claw their way to a memorable 29-19 victory.

Jukskei derby

The match of the day was played between the two big Gauteng teams — the Lions and the Blue Bulls.

Bulls hooker Hanro Venter scored a hattrick of tries, but he has the other seven members of his forward back to thank as they were all from the back of rolling mauls.

craven week lions bulls

Joel Junior Leotlela of the Golden Lions scores a try in the Craven Week match against the Blue Bulls on day two of the SA Rugby under-18 Craven Week at Rondebosch Boys High School in Cape Town on 5 July 2022. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

“It felt like a very big privilege because the whole week we talked about mauling them all day and I think we were successful at that task,” said man-of-the-match Venter to Daily Maverick after the match.

The Blue Bulls scored a fourth try from the rolling maul as replacement hooker De Wet Lottering got in on the act late in the game as the Blue Bulls went on to beat their rivals 38-19.

Tighthead prop Jayd Austin was the first to score for his side — paving the way for his scrumming partners — as he used his size and strength to his advantage to wave away Lions defenders and dot down at close quarters. 

Flyhalf and captain Stehan Heymans put all the conversions between the sticks as well as booting a penalty to become the first kicker to have a 100% kicking record in the week. 

“[Kicking to poles is] not really different from in Pretoria, the ball doesn’t go that far in the Cape, but it wasn’t a problem,” said the skipper to Daily Maverick

The Lions showed more grit and fight in the second half after trailing 24-12 at halftime, but the Blue Bulls were too well drilled to allow them to get within touching distance, despite receiving two yellow cards — to hattrick hero Venter and flanker Ewan van Heerden — late in the match. 

“It was really fun, it’s just an amazing privilege to be here at the Craven Week. It was a very tough game, well done to the Lions,” said Heymans. 

“I thought they brought it in the second half but I think our guys absorbed it well and we came back in the end and that’s all that matters,” said the captain. DM

Day two score summary:

Pumas 41 (31), Limpopo Blue Bulls 14 (14)

Pumas – Tries: Ben-Frederik Jansen van Vuuren, Danny van Staden, Drikus Greeff, Grant de Jager, Philasande Ntshapela, Francois Odendaal . Conversions: Hardus Visser (4). Penalty goal: Visser.

Limpopo – Tries: HJ Janse van Rensburg, Philippus Ludick. Conversions: Tristan Brits (2). 

Griffons 38 (31), Leopards 15 (3)

Griffons – Tries: Wian Fourie, Fano Linde, Julian Samuels, Curt Smith, Tiaan Malan, Jayleigh Arends. Conversions: Curt Smith (4).

Leopards – Tries: Jaden Fredericks, Dries Scheepers. Conversion: Grant Coetzee. Penalty goal: Coetzee 

SWD 29 (11), Free State 19 (14)

SWD – Tries: Jamil Pretorius, Antonio Bruiners, Keith Syster. Conversion: John-Taylor Strydom.

Penalty goals: Strydom (2), Kobus Janse van Rensburg (2).

Free State – Tries: Lukas Meyer (2), Jermairon Ruiters. Conversions: Bradley Giddy (2). 

Blue Bulls 38 (24), Golden Lions 19 (12)

Blue Bulls – Tries: Hanro Venter (3), Jayde Austin, De Wet Lottering. Conversions: Stehan Heymans (5). Penalty goal: Heymans.

Golden Lions – Tries: Joel Leotlela (2), Sifiso Magwaza. Conversions: Tyler Sefoor (2).

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