Eastern Province were crowned “unofficial” champions of the Grant Khomo Under-16 Week after beating hosts KZN in the tournament’s final match. In other matches, SWD lost their first match in four years at the tournament, going down against a gutsy Border team that won all three of its matches.
KZN (3) 8 vs EP (7) 13
Eastern Province made the most of their limited opportunities to beat a spirited home side in the tournament’s final match. The EP boys’ achievement was marred somewhat a small group of their supporters who whistled whilst KZN kickers were preparing to take penalties and shouted insults at the match officials.
After a furious opening spell, EP opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a spectacular try by flanker Devon Erasmus. Busy number eight Siya Kolisi picked up from the base and broke left, beating one defender before passing inside to Erasmus who broke the first line of defence eluded another five tacklers on his way to the tryline. Hanro Louw converted.
The hosts pulled three points back via a penalty by centre Robert de Bruyn in the 20th minute and there were no further scores before the break despite some enterprising play from both sides.
As the match entered its final quarter, EP had extended their lead to 13-3 after a further two penalties by Louw. KZN responded well, using their forwards to take the ball up to eventually create an opening for lock Trevor Bosman to score their first try. The conversion was missed leaving KZN five points adrift.
With time running out KZN, wanting to give the home fans something to cheer, threw everything at EP, almost conceding two intercept tries in the process. In the end, the boys from the bay held on to cap a successful week that had seen them gain earlier victories over the Lions and WP.
SWD (8) 8 vs Border (3) 11
A drop goal by flyhalf Dale Sabbagh six minutes from time ensured Border of a deserved 11-8 win over SWD. It was SWD’s first defeat at the tournament in four years. The winning drop goal was the defining feature of a spirited second half performance that saw Border recover from 3-8 down at the break.
It was an entertaining contest between two sides who sought to run the ball rather than focus on dominating up front. The packs were evenly matched, recycling at the breakdown was clean and swift and the ball was given air by both teams whenever they got the chance.
SWD enjoyed more possession and within 15 minutes had opened up an 8-0 lead via a penalty by flyhalf Jaco van Tonder and a try by winger Bennie Pierre. Sabbagh succeeded with a drop goal after Border had launched a foray into the SWD 22 metre area reducing the deficit to five points at the break.
Border leveled matters after a good build up that saw them pick and drive several times before taking the ball wide for centre Tosias van Zyl to breach the defence.
Van Tonder missed two penalty chances – the second a sitter in front of the poles – to restore SWD’s lead and it proved costly with Sabbagh’s drop the difference between two evenly-matched teams.
Free State (8) 21 Blue Bulls (9) 9
Free State made the most of their second half chances to secure a deserved win in their final match of the week. The Blue Bulls led 9-8 at the break after a tight first half in which few chances came either team’s way.
Blue Bulls flyhalf Neil Bosman opened the scoring with a drop goal in the second minute and he stretched the lead to 6-0 with a penalty six minutes later.
Free State struck back with a well taken try - centre Petrus Lindeque punching through a gap on the 22 and delivering a pinpoint pass for fullback Riaan Britz to score in the corner. Brtiz failed to convert his own try but made amends with a penalty 10 minutes later that took his side into an 8-6 lead.
Bosman restored the Bulls lead with a penalty on the stroke of halftime. Free State were back in front shortly after the break when number eight Egbert Ras rounded off a sweeping move down the right and they extended their lead to 18-9 a few minutes later when winger Sipho Tom used his pace to beat the cover defence for a spectacular try.
The final points came via a penalty by Free State flyhalf Frederick Ras.
Lions (3) 22 vs WP (15) 15
Limpopo (15) 23 vs Griffons (3) 17
Valke (10) 15 vs Pumas (14) 28
Griquas (12) 24 vs Border Country Districts 5 (5)
KZN XV (3) 8 vs Boland (0) 7
Namibia (5) 10 vs Leopards (5) 17