Pre-tournament favourites DHL Western Province, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Cell C Sharks all started well in the opening round of the Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship this past weekend.
WP outclassed Free State in Cape Town on Saturday, whilst the Blue Bulls had the better of newcomers EP Kings in Pretoria. The KZN side also had too much power for visiting Leopards in Durban on Friday.
A summary of the weekend's matches are:
Western Province 50 (20), Free State 26 (14)
Western Province scored 30 second half points in their 50-26 win over Free State in the City Park Stadium on Saturday. This strong performance was in stark contrast to the first half of the match, where the visitors enjoyed some good territoy and scoring opportunites.
An early yellow card against Western Province left wing, Leolin Zas, left his side reeling in the opening minutes of their season opener against Free State. The visitors used this numerical advantage and scored the first try of the match in the 11th minute to take the lead.
This did not last long though and soon after the return of Zas, his team started hitting the straps. Two tries and two penalties by the accurate Ernst Stapelberg jumped WP into a commanding lead before a late first half try by Os Nche rewarded the young Cheetahs for the efforts.
The second half belonged to WP as their pack took control. Their driving mauls caused havoc in the Free State defence, who responded negatively.
This resulted in two yellow cards to the Cheetahs and to further compound their ill-discipline, Stapelberg kicked a number of penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
A late Free State try gave them a bonus point and some comfort away from home.
Western Province 50 (20). Tries: Brendon Nell, Daniel du Plessis, Frans Roelf van Wyk (2), Leolin Zas. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg (5). Penalties: Stapelberg (5).
Free State 26 (14). Tries: Abraham Burger, Lorenzo Gordon (2), Ox Nche. Conversions: Andre Swarts (2), Tyron Labuschagne.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 (24), EP Kings 17 (10).
The Vodacom Blue Bulls started the defence of their Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship on a positive note on Friday by beating newcomers EP Kings 29-17 at Loftus Versfeld. The Blue Bulls took early command of the match and never looked back.
Three tries in the first 20 minutes laid the foundation to the bonus-point win. The EP Kings came back well in the second half of the match, but after that early blow there was only going to be one winner in the match.
A rash of substitutions on both sides affected the momentum of both teams and the Blue Bulls only managed the bonus point try nine minutes from time.
Blue Bulls 27 (24). Tries: Tries: Jurie Linde (2), Philip Orffer, RG Snyman. Conversions: Dewald Human (3). Penalty: Human
EP Kings 17 (10). Tries: CJ Velleman, Tyler Paul. Conversions: Jason Vers, Tyler Paul. Penalty: Vers
KZN 32 (13), Leopards 17 (5)
The home side had to work hard to overcome their visitors from Potchefstroom, but in the end won with a flattering margin. They also secured the bonus point in a strong second half when Matthew Reece-Edwards scored his second try of the half.
Another familiar rugby surname, Du Preez, got onto the scoresheet when Jean-Luc, son of former Bok Robert du Preez, scored.
KZN 32 (13). Tries: Ayron Schramm, Jean-Luc du Preez, Matthew Reece-Edwards (2).Conversions: Innocent Radebe (3). Penalties: Radebe (2).
Leopards 17(5). Tries: Gideon van der Merwe, Rudolph Van Deventer, Wessels Kuhn. Conversion: Chris Arries.