Fourth day of Craven Week turns out to be more tightly contested

2013-07-12 00:00

WITH most of the matches on the fourth day of Craven Week being more tightly contested, not as many tries were scored as on the other three days. This was not to say that the rugby was not as exciting. There was some good defence, which prevented run-away victories.

The first match yielded nine tries but they were all to the one side, Leopards, against the Border Country Districts side that has yet to score a point in their two matches. As the Border CD side seems so much weaker than the other teams it does ask a question whether they should be included at this level.

The Valke were more composed than their opponents from the Griquas Country Districts, but the latter were willing and filled with effort. They had two brilliant loose forwards — eighthman Jasper Wiese (Upington) and flank Junior Burger (Duine­veld) who captains the side. Burger scored all his side’s four tries and the Valke also had four tries until the last four minutes when they got in for another two to give them the 42-24 win.

Superior place kicking by Shaun Reynolds (Goudveld) of the Griffons gave them victory over Eastern Province Country Districts where both sides had scored two tries. Griffons kept ahead throughout the 70 minutes to eventually win 26-20 after leading 17-7 at the break.

In a match in which both sides battled to keep control of the ball for long periods, South Western Districts (SWD) made better use of their opportunities and punished Eastern Province (EP) regularly from turnover ball. The early exchanges were fairly scrappy as both teams gave it a full go but lacked the accuracy to finish their opportunities off, resulting in a scoreless opening 15 minutes.

EP came close to breaking the deadlock when left wing Keanu Vers (Grey HS) made an interception only to be hauled down just short of the line and instead his team was reduced to 14 men after a yellow card at the tackle.

It did not take SWD long after that to open the scoring as powerful left wing, and SA Schools player from 2012, Duhan van der Merwe (Outeniqua), picked up a turnover ball on halfway and raced away down the blindside for the try.

Van der Merwe scored his second try, giving his side a 14-0 lead at half-time. SWD then scored their third converted try when hard-running lock Donavan van der Berg (Oakdale) crossed the line for a 21-0 lead.

The Eastern Cape outfit needed to hit back to keep their hopes of staying in the game alive, and bashed away at the SWD defence until replacement prop Erich de Jager (Die Burger) was able to force his way over for a try.

SWD came straight back and hooker Brandon Haas (Langenhoven) forced his way over after a quick tap penalty.

That left EP searching for a miracle as they found themselves trailing 28-7 with just 15 minutes left to play, but they were forced to attack from their own half and paid the price as another turnover resulted in SWD flank Benjamin Jansen van Vuuren (Oakdale) stretching to extend their lead to 35-7.

EP scored their second try when Johann van Niekerk (Grey) went over, but SWD had the final say when JP Coetzee (Oakdale) ran around to notch their sixth try and a 40-14 win.

The final match turned into an exciting finish as the Golden Lions scored in injury time to beat favourites Free State 20-19. It was a physical encounter and at one stage it appeared as if the Free State had done enough to win comfortably.

At half time it was the Lions that led 11-9 after a long-range penalty by Gerhardus van der Walt (Monument), a penalty by Erwin Harris (Florida) and a try by wing Fernando Keuris (Florida) to three penalties by Stephan Rautenbach (Grey College).

In the second half it was penalty by Harris that increased the Lions’ lead but then Free State started winning more ball, and on a penalty by Rautenbach and a try by hooker Andrew du Plessis (Grey), Free State went into a 19-14 lead. Lions pushed hard and were awarded a penalty that Harris slotted to narrow the gap to 17-19 before win 20-19 on the final kick.

Scores in brief: Leopards 64 Border CD 0; Falcons 42 Griquas CD 24; Griffons 26 EP CD 20; SWD 40 EP 14; Lions 20 Free State 19

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