The Coca-Cola under-16 Grant Khomo Week got off to an exciting start at the Isak Steyl Stadium in Vanderbijlpark on Monday with a cocktail of big victories and close encounters keeping spectators entertained.
Such was the competitiveness of the clashes on the opening day only Western Province, SWD and the Valke XV registered convincing wins, while the Blue Bulls, KwaZulu-Natal, Border and the Golden Lions were made to work hard for their victories.
The Cape-based team was particularly impressive as they crossed the chalk seven times against the Leopards for their 50-12 victory in a match that set the tone for a gripping tournament.
The Western Province forwards and backs combined well to produce a solid display, but it was their effectiveness at snuffing out gaps in the defence and creating point-scoring chances that put them in the driving seat. The match was particularly memorable for Taigh Schoor, who scored a hat-trick of tries, and Jondre Williams who contributed 15 points with the boot.
The clash between the Blue Bulls and Eastern Province, meanwhile, lived up to its billing as one of the top clashes of the day, as a last-minute try by Bulls scrumhalf Embrose Papier earned his team their 30-26 victory.
The clash proved to be a close encounter from the start, with EP No8 Malan Marais crashing over the tryline in the fourth minute to open up the scoring. But the Bulls hit back minutes later with two penalties and a try to only one penalty by EP, which handed them an 11-10 lead at the break. The second half was equally tense as the teams each scored two tries in what proved to be a see-saw half. Papier’s try, however, in which he picked up the ball from the ruck and out-paced a few defenders to score under the posts, proved to be the decisive moment of the match.
Border also snuck through the back door for their 15-13 win against the Free State thanks to a last-minute penalty by Morgan Steyn, this despite scoring two tries to only one by the opposition, while Zimbabwe staged a strong second-half comeback from 12-5 down against Griquas Country Districts to register a well-deserved 15-12 victory.
The Lions, meanwhile, delivered a spectacular second-half display to recover from a 15-7 deficit at half time against the Valke for a 29-20 bonus point victory. The team lifted the urgency and tempo in their performance significantly after a sluggish first half and used their pace to take advantage of the open spaces, which earned them three-second half tries.
In Durban Western Province continued to dominate the Youth Weeks as they stamped their authority on the opening day of the Coca-Cola Under-18 Academy Week as they cruised to a 93-0 victory against the Red Valke, while Eastern Province defeated the Blue Valke 66-5.
In the tightest games the Limpopo Blue Bulls and Border battled to a 19 – 19 draw and Boland pipped the Blue Bulls 13-12.
Coca-Cola Under-16 Grant Khomo Week day 1 results:
Griquas 9 - 13 Namibia
Valke 20 - 29 Golden Lions
Boland 17 – 10 Pumas
Griquas CD 12 – 15 Zimbabwe
Border CD 3 – 28 Valke XV
Free State 13 – 15 Border
SWD 21 – 10 Griffons
Blue Bulls 30 – 26 Eastern Province
Western Province 50 – 12 Leopards
KwaZulu-Natal 16 - 12 Limpopo Blue Bulls
Coca-Cola Under-18 Academy Week day 1 results:
KZN CD 36 – 22 Pumas CD
KZN 54 - 20 Leopards
Leopards CD 38 – 0 Border CD
Blue Bulls 12 – 13 Boland
KZN XV 34 – 0 Griquas CD
Red Valke 0 – 93 Western Province
Griquas 25 – 39 Griffons CD
Pumas 26 – 22 Free State
EP CD 15 – 41 Griffons
Namibia 52 – 0 SA LSEN
Golden Lions 33 – 38 Limpopo Blue Bulls
Limpopo Blue Bulls 19 – 19 Border
Blue Valke 5 – 66 Eastern Province