Toyota Free State on Saturday showed that they could be a force to be reckoned with in the Absa Under-21 Provincial Championship as they defeated Border to earn back-to-back victories in the series and secure the top spot on the log.
Meanwhile, Western Province bounced back from their round-one defeat against the Free State by thumping the Leopards 55-10 in Cape Town and the MTN Golden Lions started their season on a high note by beating the Sharks 24-17 at GrowthPoint Kings Park.
The Free State U21s started their clash in East London with a bang thanks to two tries by flank Tienie Burger in the first 17 minutes for a morale-boosting 12-0 lead.
Border hit back minutes later with right wing Angus Cleophas crossing the tryline and slotting over a conversion, which Wayne Gardner backed up with a penalty to reduce the gap to 12-10.
Free State, however, took control of the match shortly after which was spurred on by a Luan De Bruin try a minute before half time for a 17-10 lead.
They continued this dominance in the second half and forced Border to fight for points.
This earned the Free State another two second-half tries to take their tally for the match to five and shut Border for the victory.
Border U21 15 (10) – Tries: Angus Cleophas, Juan Bester. Conversion: Cleophas. Penalty: Wayne Gardner.
Toyota Free State U21 32 (17) – Tries: Gerhard Olivier, Luan De Bruin, Marco Mason, Tienie Burger (2). Conversions: Marco Mason (2). Penalty: Marco Mason.
In Cape Town DHL Western Province ran the Leopards off their feet and crossed the tryline an impressive eight times in a fantastic display of attacking rugby.
Such was the effectiveness of their performance the Leopards had to settle for a penalty for their efforts in the first half, while the home team sealed their bonus-point try for a 29-3 lead at the break.
WP wing Dillyn Leyds was particularly impressive in the second half as he completed his hat-trick of tries, while flyhalf Tim Swiel kept the scoreboard ticking with his accurate boot for a personal tally of 15 points for the match thanks to six conversions and a penalty.
With the victory wrapped up, Western Province leaked a late try by Leopards No 8 Marno Redelinghuys, which took the visitors into double figures on the scoreboard.
DHL Western Province U21 55 (29) – Tries: Dillyn Leyds (3), Godlen Masimla, Joshua Katzen, Patrick Howard, Tim Swiel, penalty try. Conversions: Swiel (6). Penalty: Swiel.
Leopards U21 10 (3) – Try: Marno Redelinghuys. Conversion: Ryno Smith. Penalty: Smith.
The MTN Golden Lions, meanwhile, also built on a strong start in their clash against the Sharks in Durban on Friday to start their campaign on a positive note.
Two first-half tries by Ruaan Lerm and Gideon Meiring respectively to add to a Marais Schmidt penalty placed the team on the front-foot and forced the Sharks to play catch-up rugby.
Prop Allan Dell relished the challenge and crashed over the tryline on the stroke of half time to close the gap to 17-7.
Another try by the Lions shortly after the break, however, dealt the Sharks a mental blow and although they showed great character to fight back, which earned Dell his second try of the day, the gap on the scoreboard proved to be too big.
Sharks U21 17 (7) – Tries: Allan Dell (2). Conversions: Brendan Cope, Robert du Preez. Penalty: Brendan Cope.
MTN Golden Lions U21 24 (17) – Tries: Gideon Meiring, Henri Boshoff, Ruaan Lerm. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt, Marais Schmidt (2). Penalty: Schmidt.