2009-05-10 00:00

AFTER the first four days of Craven Week, Western Province and Free State have emerged as the two top sides and they will meet in the unofficial final today at 1.15 pm.

KZN had a tough opening game against Free State and a good win against the SA Academy XV.

The main curtain raiser will be the home union Border against the Pumas, although the match before will be the “unofficial runners-up”, KZN, against the Blue Bulls. All 22 sides play today at three different venues.

Although Free State did most of the running in the game against KZN on a windy, late afternoon game on Tuesday, KZN defence patterns were good and they won the battle for the loose ball.

Playing with the wind behind them, flyhalf Fred Zeilinga put over four penalties to a late try by Stephanus Pretorius from Free State, to lead 12-5 at half time.

Zeilinga could have put his side further ahead if he had not missed two penalties.

Free State closed the gap with a penalty by Johan Goosen and then went ahead with a controversial try, where it appeared a forward pass leading to the try by Sipho Tom had occurred. This was converted by Goosen and Free State took a 15-12 lead.

A difficult kick into the teeth of the wind by Zeilinga drew KZN level with about 25 minutes remaining.

Free State were becoming desperate to get ahead, as seen by three attempted drop goals, and from the last one they counter-attacked from the drop-out. Centre Piet Lindeque scored after flank Jean Cook had made the running.

Goosen converted and Free State led 22-15, and although KZN made every effort to score Free state kept them out.

Their second match, against a strong SA Academy XV, saw KZN take a 11-0 lead at the break for an eventual 23-0 win. They were helped by a red card, so played against 14 men for 39 minutes.

They scored three tries — by Emil Schwartz, Francois Kleinhans and Cameron Lindsay — a conversion and a penalty by Zeilinga, and a penalty by Michael Nolden.

This win gained KZN a runners-up match against the Blue Bulls, who had thrashed Boland 52-0 and then lost to Free State 13-32. Boland had 14 players for three-quarters of the game,

At the conclusion of the 2009 Craven week, the SA Schools Rugby side will be announced. They will play two Tests against an Italian Schools XV on August 4 and an England Schools XV on August 8, both in Kimberley.

Matches today: At Port Rex — Griquas CD vs Border CD; Limpopo vs Griquas; SWD vs Eastern Province CD

At Hudson Park — Boland vs SA LSEN; Valke vs Griffons; Leopards vs Eastern Province

At Buffalo Park — Zimbabwe vs Namibia; SA Academy vs Golden Lions; KZN vs Blue Bulls; Border vs Pumas; Western Province vs Free State



Craven week final: 1 pm – live on M-Net and SuperSport 1 from 1.15 pm

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