KZN give Free State a run for their money at Craven Week U18 tournament

2010-07-02 00:00

A BRAVE KwaZulu-Natal fought to the end, but went down 30-20 to favourites Free State at the Craven Week U18 rugby tournament in Welkom yesterday.

Free State led 15-13 at half-time and outscored KZN four tries to two, but although the mielieboere deserved to win, the final score was not a fair reflection as the Natalians were outstanding in securing 50% possession. Sadly, quality flyhalf Duncan Campbell’s place-kicking boots weren’t on song and four misses from eight kickable opportunities cost his side a possible 12 points.

Free State were also forced into making more tackles than KZN Most surprisingly, the prediction that the Black and Whites would have to counter-attack from deep as the men in orange and white made all the running was largely turned on its head.

Yet the difference was Free State’s superior ability with ball in hand, as they were able to run from deep, taking it wide from left to right and the other way, and set the ball up again for the inevitable overlap that saw brawny hooker Anrich Bitzi run in a brace of tries after receiving the final pass on the wing.

First-choice KZN left wing Emil Schwarz (leg injury) was forced to sit out, but the other walking wounded all started. Inside centre Patrick Howard straightened the line beautifully to score his side’s first-half try following a pinpoint Campbell pass.

Several KZN opportunities went astray after outstanding captain Guy Alexander and the other ball carriers — frontranker Senzo Mtshali and the impressive forward Khaya Majola — had initially made the hard yards.

Utility back Keelan Bastew scored KZN’s other try when he intercepted and touched down from 65 metres at the death.

Free State flyhalf Johan Goosen lived up to his reputation, while an effective, thoroughly efficient all-round unit is the general impression the Bloemfontein boys leave you with.

KZN coach Tony Richter was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Today is a rest day, and tomorrow’s final matches will have been determined last night, with Free State and Western Province likely to be in the prized final match. The kick-off is 1.15 pm and is live on SuperSport.

The national teams will be announced tomorrow.

POINTS

Free State (15) 30 Tries: Marthinus Keyser, Anrich Bitzi (2), Gerhardus Olivier. Conversions: Johan Goosen (2). Penalties: Goosen (2).

KZN (13) 20 Tries: Patrick Howard, Keelan Bastew. Conversions: Duncan Campbell (2). Penalties: Campbell (2).

Other results: Mpumalanga 38 Griquas 7; Valke 26 Border 22; SWD 21 Zimbabwe 3; Griquas CD 27 North West 25.

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