WP clinch Craven thriller

2009-05-10 00:00

THE final match of Craven Week 2009 was a fitting end to a great week of schoolboy rugby in Stellenbosch. The match between favourites Free State and Western Province was hard and uncompromising and it was no surprise that 11 of the players who were named as members of the SA Schools side were from these two provinces.

Free State, playing into a brisk breeze, kept the ball in hand to score two tries and at half-time looked as if they would run away with the game with the wind behind them. They did, however, lose their hooker early in the first half and suffered at the lineouts and scrums thereafter.

The scoring was opened by WP when Craig Barry put over a drop kick in the first minute for WP to lead 3-0. Free State were deserved 14-6 leaders at the break after two tries by fullback Riaan Brits and flyhalf Johan Goosen, both converted by Goosen.

The lead was stretched to 17-6 early in the second half when Goosen added a further three points from a penalty. A Free State lineout close to their line was lost and flank Jodi Reyneke went over for Province, to narrow the gap to 11-17.

Willem van Wyk, who missed a number of kicks at the posts, then converted his most difficult of the game and WP were 14-17 behind with 10 minutes remaining. Then came Barry with a little chip over the defence, a favourable bounce and he went over for the winning try to snatch a dramatic two-point win with just two minutes left on the clock.

Earlier, in the main curtain-raiser, KZN played the Blue Bulls and in the words of coach Tony Richter, “we should never have lost 22-25”. Opportunities often went begging as a number of penalty attempts were missed, including two in the last five minutes, and the ball was dropped over the tryline which could have led to another seven points.

At half-time the Bulls led 11-8 after two penalties by Tony Jantjies and a try by wing Anton Kruger, to a try by lock Brendon Groenewald and a penalty by Fred Zielinga for KZN. Kruger then scored a second converted try, stretching the lead to 18-8. Then came the missed try, but a short while later wing Emil Schwartz scored for KZN and Zeilinga added the extra points to close the gap to 15-18.

Centre Johan de Goede put the Bulls into a 25-15 lead with their third converted try and it was KZN’s third try by hooker Ruan Grobler again converted by Zeilinga that made the final score 25-22. The difference in the game was a penalty and it could so easily have been won by KZN.

Results Day 4: Griquas CD 51 Border CD 0; Boland 58 SA LSEN 5; SWD 35 Eastern Province CD 34; Eastern Province 22 Leopards 18; Griquas 40 Limpopo 34; Griffons 26 Valke 10; Zimbabwe 34 Namibia 34; Golden Lions 37 SA Academy 8; Blue Bulls 25 KZN 22; Border 41 Pumas 14; Western Province 19 Free State 17

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