The Vodacom Blue Bulls continued their dominant form in the Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship this past weekend by securing their tenth consecutive win, but it was results elsewhere that raised eyebrows and opened up the play-off race again.
The Pretoria side travelled to Johannesburg and scored a 24-8 win over the MTN Golden Lions, but it was the Leopards’ 27-22 victory over The Sharks in Durban that invigorated the race for the second spot on the log and a possible home semifinal.
Earlier, the DHL Western Province confirmed their comeback into the play-off race with a resounding 36-7 win over the Border Bulldogs in East London, which sealed the host’s promotion/relegation fate.
Border 7 (0) DHL Western Province 36 (19)
The visitors scored six tries on a windy afternoon in East London and more importantly, finished on the right side of the result as they continue their comeback for a play-off spot following a slow start in the competition.
WP have now moved into fifth on the log and with matches against the MTN Golden Lions and The Sharks left, could still sneak into the final four, which will give them a chance to defend the title they won last year.
It was one-way traffic in the first half at the BMC Stadium as WP scored three tries in the opening 20 minutes and Border suffered the sin-binning of Ntando Mpofana.
The bonus point try came early in the second half and although Conor-Terrah Brockschmidt could pull one back for Border, Pieter Schoonraad’s second try of the afternoon completed a satisfying afternoon for the Cape Town side.
Border 7 (0). Try: Conor-Terrah Brockschmidt. Conversion: Werner Barnard.
DHL Western Province 36 (19). Tries: Chad Solomon, Pieter Schoonraad (2). Jason Morris, Ramone Samuels, Ruan Rossouw. Conversions: Christopher Smith.
The Sharks 22 (17) Leopards 27 (13)
A bonus point win to the visiting Leopards gave Jaco Pienaar’s team a reason to celebrate as they claimed another big scalp on the road.
Having beaten WP and the Toyota Free State away from home, the North West team secured this win with a strong spell just before and after halftime.
The home side was up early after a try by Stefan van Schalkwyk, but a five pointer by speedster Blessing Makhavhu and a Lourens Boddington penalty allowed the Leopards to take the lead.
The Sharks scored another through Joseph Jones and when Colin Willemse converted and kicked a penalty, the home side looked well on their way with a 17-8 lead after 30 minutes of play.
A yellow card to Nkulukelo Marwana allowed the Leopards back into the game.
Jeandre Rudolph scored just before the break and when Boddington raced through and converted his own try, the momentum and lead was with the Leopards team.
A second for Makhavhu gave them a ten-point cushion and although the home side scored in the final minute, they ran out of time to repeat that.
The Sharks 22 (17). Tries: Joseph Jones, Michael Cloete, Stefan van Schalkwyk. Conversions: Colin Willemse (2). Penalty: Willemse.
Leopards 27 (13). Tries: Lourens Boddington, Blessing Makhavhu (2), Jeandre Rudolph. Conversions: Boddington (2). Penalty: Boddington.
MTN Golden Lions 8 (8) Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 (21)
The Vodacom Blue Bulls are still brushing all contenders aside and this was their tenth win on the trot.
For once they did not manage a four-try bonus point, but give credit to the home side, who fought till the very end to topple their highly-rated opponents.
The Golden Lions were on the scoreboard first with a penalty by Gawie du Toit, but the lead was short-lived as powerful inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg proved unstoppable.
The Lions got the lead back when winger Carlisle Nel scored, but that was the last time they scored points.
Keagon Gordon and Duncan Matthews scored within ten minutes of each other to put the Blue Bulls in control at the break.
The second half was tight, with a lone Jaco Wolmarans penalty confirming the Blue Bulls edge.
MTN Golden Lions 8 (8). Try: Carlisle Nel. Penalty: Gawie du Toit.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 (21). Tries: Keagon Gordon, Duncan Matthews, Rohan Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Jaco Wolmarans (3). Penalty: Wolmarans.