There are no undefeated teams in the Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship after the completion of the first round of matches, but the fortunes of the Vodacom Blue Bulls on top and that of SWD Eagles at the bottom could not have been more different.
The Pretoria side tops the pool with 24 points, have lost only once, scoring 29 tries and conceding 10. The Eagles have lost all six matches, only scored two tries but leaked 58 and have not registered any log points yet.
They are improving though. They did lose their opening fixture 90-0 to the Blue Bulls, but were far more competitive six weeks down the line when they faced DHL Western Province on Saturday.
WP are second on the log only due to points difference and won 55-11 after leading 19-6 at the break.
The weather was not great, but both sides played with a lot of spirit. The Province pack dominated throughout, hence the seven tries scored by forwards. SWD’s scrumhalf Dillin Snel scored his side’s only try in the second half.
SWD’s improvement was not the real surprise of the weekend though, as the Leopards shocked the KZN side with a 29-8 thumping in Potchefstroom. The home side scored two tries to one, but the accurate boot of JJ du Plessis proved the difference.
The flyhalf kicked five penalties and two conversions, while Natal’s Rob du Preez missed both the conversion of Stephen van Tonder’s try and two early penalty attempts.
It was a tight affair in the first half, with two penalties from Du Plessis the only points. The second half saw the home side extending the lead though Du Plessis regularly and when the pivot scored a try himself, there was no coming back for the Natal team.
The Blue Bulls showed their class in Pretoria, where they beat Toyota Free State 39-20. Five tries to two certainly tells a story of dominance, but that was only established in the second half.
The home side had a 20-13 lead at the break, but the second 35 minutes belonged to the Blue Bulls backline, who scored some great tries. Free State tried hard, with Madala Ndinisa again dotting down, but it was clear why one team is top of the log and the other second from bottom.
•In the First Division a second win in as many weeks for Griquas established them as early pace setters. They scored five tries with Reynhard Muller’s brace a highlight in the 36-19 win over Griffons in Kimberley.
In Worcester, a late try by James Wepener secured a 19-10 win for Ford Pumas over Regent Boland. The visitors were up 5-3 at the break after an early try by Willem Ras. Boland came back well in the second half and even had the lead after Harlon Klaasen crossed the whitewash, but when first Adriaan van der Berg and then Wepener scored, it was all over.
A big shock awaited the EP Kings in East London where a determined Border side totally outplayed them. The home side scored five tries to two in their 37-12 win and bolstered by first half tries by Lukhanyo Am, Riaan Naude and Stephan Saayman, never looked back.