‘Basic errors’ cost Sharks

2014-07-15 00:00

THE 51st edition of the Coca Cola Craven Week kicked off yesterday in Middelburg, with 20 teams from around the country attending. Five matches were played with the remaining teams in action today, allowing those who played yesterday to work on their game plans for their next clashes tomorrow.

KwaZulu-Natal’s opening match was the fourth of the day, taking on South Western Districts in a match many pundits saw the men in black and white winning. In what could be considered the upset of the day, the SWD side took the spoils 18-13, their victory celebrations showing what the win meant to them.

It was a tough encounter with both sides matching each other in physicality and on the scoreboard, neither side able to take the initiative and control the match. The lead changed hands often and at times, it looked as though the KZN backline would be the difference between the sides with the Kearsney halfback pairing of scrumhalf James Hall and flyhalf Tristan Tedder, backed up by Glenwood’s Morné Joubert at fullback and centres Tristan Blewett (Hilton) and Wayne Smith (Westville) being too much firepower for the opposition.

However, this never materialised as too many errors and the final pass not going to hand proved to be the KZN boys’ downfall. Backline coach of the team, Grant Bell from Westville Boys’ High School, summed up his frustration on the sidelines saying, “It was a match we expected to win, but in the end, did not deserve to win. There were far too many mistakes and we never took our opportunities and capitalised on them.

“Basic errors cost us. One try, which would have been Joubert’s second, was disallowed because of a forward pass and on numerous occasions, with the tryline beckoning, the ball was knocked on. We were our own worst enemy.”

In a nutshell, there were no excuses for the side. Glenwood No. 8 Jaco Coetzee was one of the KZN standouts until a yellow card curtailed his and the team’s momentum when he killed the ball in the red zone. “At this level, such mistakes cannot be made and the team has learned a lesson in that the opposition is unforgiving in such instances,” said Bell. “We have seen, in our first match, that there are no prisoners taken here and the side that makes the most errors ends up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.”

Bell and team coach Barend Steyn from Kearsney had a full squad of 22 players to choose from, another aspect that makes the defeat even more bitter. “We had a full squad to choose from and our strongest side ran onto the park,” said Bell. “We have to prepare the players mentally for tomorrow’s match if we want to make a statement as a side to be respected.”

The team had a camp in the weeks leading up to Craven Week and played two warm-up matches, against the Pumas and the Lions. Despite winning both, Bell believes the team needed more game time. “The matches were played quite a while before arriving here in Middelburg and I believe there should have been more opportunities to work as a team, work out combinations and appreciate what each player could contribute.”

However, all is not lost as coaches and players know what has to be done ahead of the next match. “The field is hard and dry, but conditions are ideal for rugby,” said Bell. “We will only know our opposition tonight after today’s fixtures and while we have a break as such today, we will be doing a video analysis of yesterday’s game, working on recovery and focusing on the basics.”

Fortunately, there are no major injuries for the KZN side after yesterday’s clash and the team will be hoping to change gear tomorrow. KZN’s points came from a try by Joubert, with Tedder adding a conversion and two penalties. SWD’s contribution came from tries by wing Shadward Fillies and fullback Ruan Barnard, with centre JT Jackson adding a conversion and two penalties.

In earlier matches, Limpopo Blue Bulls and Griquas Country Districts got the week underway, the Limpopo lads coming out on top 25-19; Eastern Province Country Districts and Zimbabwe played in a high scoring affair, with the EP side getting home 54-43. While both sides looked great on attack, in defence there was much to be desired but the match kept spectators interested; the Griffons accounted for Border 47-20 and in the final match of the day, Western Province edged the Pumas 32-33 in a match of two halves. Province dominated from the first whistle, while the Pumas owned the second period, well ahead in the possession stakes and unlucky not to pull off what would have been a stout win.

Day two continues today with the rest of the teams in action. The results from yesterday and today will determine the fixtures for tomorrow.

U18 Craven Week Results (Day One):

Limpopo Blue Bulls 25 Griquas CD 19

Eastern Province CD 54 Zimbabwe 43

Griffons 47 Border 20

SWD 18 KZN 13

Pumas 32 Western Province 33

Today’s Fixtures:

10.10 am – Griquas v Border CD

11.30 am – Namibia v Leopards

12.50 pm – Valke v Boland

2.10 pm – Blue Bulls v Eastern Province

3.30 pm – Golden Lions v Free State.

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