DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls continued to lead the way in the A Division of the Absa Under-21 Provincial Championship this past weekend as they both secured their fourth victory in five matches to retain their lead at the top of the log standings.
Western Province registered a convincing 20-3 victory against the Sharks at Newlands, while the Blue Bulls defeated Toyota Free State 40-27 at Loftus Versfeld.
In the other match, the MTN Golden Lions registered an invaluable 45-16 away-win against Border in East London to remain in the top four on the standings.
DHL Western Province 20 (13) Sharks 3 (3)
In Cape Town penalties dominated the early exchanges between DHL Western Province and the Sharks as the teams tested one another on attack and defence.
This allowed Western Province flyhalf Tim Swiel and his opposite number Robert du Preez to get their teams on the scoreboard in the first quarter.
The home team, however, did well to gain momentum on attack and they earned the rewards with captain and flank Joshua Katzen crossing the tryline in the 23rd minute for an 8-3 lead.
Swiel converted and slotted over a penalty minutes later to push his team into a 13-3 lead at the break.
Western Province built on their first-half dominance soon after returning to the field with wing Craig Barry crossing the tryline for their second five-pointer, which Swiel converted for a morale-boosting 20-3 lead.
The Sharks stepped up their game and did well to contain the home side for the rest of the match, but they were denied any further point-scoring chances by the solid WP defence, and had to settle for a single penalty to show for their efforts.
DHL Western Province 20 (13) – Tries: Craig Barry, Joshua Katzen. Conversions: Tim Swiel (2). Penalties: Tim Swiel (2).
Sharks 3 (3) – Penalty: Robert du Preez (1).
Border 16 (9) MTN Golden Lions 45 (21)
The MTN Golden Lions were convincing in their showing against Border at the BCM Stadium despite being reduced to 14 men in the ninth minute as Mark Pretorius was red-carded.
Such was the high quality of their performance they scored six tries to one to secure their third victory of the season.
The victory kept them within striking distance of the log-leaders for a semifinal spot later in the season.
The Gauteng team started with a bang as Ruan Venter crossed the tryline in the third minute, with Marais Schmidt and Ruan Janse van Rensburg following in the first half to take a commanding lead.
Their ill-discipline, however, allowed Border to work their way onto the scoreboard with fullback Janco Lehmann slotting over three penalties.
Border showed their fighting spirit early in the second half and wasted no time inflating their lead, with Shaun Nieuwenhuyzen dotting down the ball over the tryline, which Lehmann converted.
But unfortunately their efforts were cancelled out as the Lions continued their romp with Damian Engledoe running in two tries and Stephan de Wit touching down with two minutes to go to secure their bonus-point victory.
Golden Lions fullback Marais Schmidt was particularly influential, as he slotted over six conversions and a penalty to add to his try for a personal total of 20 points.
Border 16 (9) – Try: Shaun Nieuwenhuyzen. Conversion: Janco Lehmann. Penalties: Janco Lehmann (3).
MTN Golden Lions 45 (21) – Tries: Damian Engledoe (2), Marais Schmidt, Ruan Janse van Rensburg, Ruan Venter, Stephan de Wit. Conversions: Marais Schmidt (6). Penalty: Schmidt.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 40 (19) Toyota Free State 27 (14)
The Vodacom Blue Bulls also started strongly in their clash against the Toyota Free State as they ran in three first-half tries to only by the visitors.
But their discipline let them down, allowing Free State’s Jan Strumpher to kick three penalties, which left them only five points behind at the break.
Strumpher added two penalties in the third quarter, but unfortunately this was not enough to counter the Bulls’ impressive attack.
The home team did well to control proceedings and again used their point-scoring chances well, which allowed them to seal the bonus-point try in the 53rd minute, which they followed up by another two.
The Free State, however, hit back with a consolation try in the last minute to salvage some pride and reduce the deficit on the scoreboard to 40-27.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 40 (19) – Tries: Handre Pollard, Jade Kyle Stighling, Jermaine Kleinsmith, Rudi van Rooyen (2), Shaun Adendorff. Conversions: Handre Pollard (5).
Toyota Free State 27 (14) – Tries: Jan de Klerk, Stephen Griesel. Conversion: Niel Marais. Penalties: Jan Strumpher (5).