The Vodacom Blue Bulls have a firm grip on the Absa Under-21 Provincial Championship after the completion of the first round of the competition, with KwaZulu-Natal Sharks and DHL Western Province still within striking distance and a possible dogfight for the relegation last place between the MTN Golden Lions, Border Bulldogs and Leopards looming.
The Pretoria side raced away in the second half of their clash with the Toyota Free State at Loftus Versfeld and scored five tries to one in a very convincing win. The visitors were 13-3 up after 35 minutes, but once Jean Cook and Damian van Wyk scored in quick succession, the cracks started to appear.
They finally burst open in the second half, as the Blue Bulls scored 21 unanswered points, with Riaan Britz, Travis Ismaiel and Christopher Bosch all dotting down and Tony Jantjies converting.
The Sharks scored a very good win in Potchefstroom and thanks only to a late try by prop Allan Dell. The Junior Boks prop’s 78th minute effort secured the 40-35 win in a match which saw the lead change several times.
The Leopards had their visitors on the ropes in the first half with their 25-16 lead a deserving one.
Tries by another Junior Bok prop, Maks van Dyk, and one by Sizo Maseko gave KZN their first lead in the match. It was cancelled out by a try from Lood de Jager and Warren Gilbert’s conversion had the Leopards up 35-33 with two minutes to play. Dell then delivered the fatal blow.
In Cape Town, DHL Western Province entertained Border Bulldogs at City Park Sports Grounds in what turned out to be a wet and miserable Cape Town winters day.
The home side won 31-17, with a brace by prop Francois van Wyk and a try by Oliver Kebble an indication of the style of play adopted in the poor conditions.
It did suit the Border pack to muscle it out with WP and they even had the lead at the break (10-7), thanks to a George Fritz try and two successful kicks by Dale Sabbagh.
WP edged ahead with two tries, but when Juan Vos scored for Border in the 70th minute, it was a four point ball game again.
A penalty by home town flyhalf Tim Swiel and Van Wyk’s second surge for the line proved decisive in the end.
For a full breakdown of matches and the leading point’s scorers, go to the tournaments section of the website.