The Leopards, Free State and Golden Lions earned early momentum in the Absa Under-19 Provincial Championship this past weekend as they registered valuable victories away from home to boost their confidence in the tournament.
The Leopards overcame a strong challenge from DHL Western Province at Newlands for a hard-fought 28-27 victory, the Toyota Free State thumped Border 29-13 in East London and the MTN Golden Lions defeated the Sharks 21-13 at GrowthPoint Kings Park.
In Cape Town, the clash between Western Province and the Leopards was tightly-fought from the outset, but the Leopards had the first say with scrumhalf Chriswill September crossing the tryline in the 10th minute to take the early lead. A penalty and converted try by Province in the second quarter, however, handed them a 10-7 lead at the break.
The Leopards again started the second half strongly with centre Lourens Boddington crossing the chalk for the second of his team’s four tries, but the teams found themselves in a tight tussle with Western Province hitting back to score two second half tries to stay within range of winning the match. These hopes, however, were dashed as Leopards replacement scrumhalf Schalk Hugo crashed over for the final try two minutes from time and slotted over the conversion to sneak into the lead.
WP U19 27 (10) – Tries : Christiaan Mouton, Devon Nash, Jason Worrall. Conversions: Christopher Smith (3). Penalties: Christopher Smith (2).
Leopards U19 28 (7)- Tries: Chriswill September, Dean Stokes, Lourens Boddington, Schalk Hugo. Conversions: Schalk Hugo (2) Cornelius Swart (2)
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, meanwhile, took control of their clash against the Border early on as they capitalised on their try-scoring chances and defended well to work their way into an encouraging 22-8 lead at the break. So effective was their play, they ran in three first-half tries and limited the home team to a penalty and an unconverted try.
With Border tightening up their defence in the second half, the teams found themselves in an arm wrestle. But unfortunately for Border the Cheetahs’ lead proved to be too big to create an upset.
Border U19 13 (8) – Tries: Oliver Cracknell, Soso Xakalashe. Penalty: Werner Barnard.
Free State U19 29 (22) – Tries: Barend Marx Bornman, Len le Roux, Louis Venter, Nicolaas Lee, Vuyani Maqina. Conversions: Len le Roux, Michael Marx.
In Durban the Sharks ill-discipline in the first half allowed MTN Golden Lions flyhalf Brandan Hewit to kick three first-half penalties to add to their converted try for 16-10 lead. The home team continued to infringe in what proved a hard-fought the second half, but unfortunately for the Lions Hewitt’s luck with the boot turned, which forced the team to work hard for points. This earned them an invaluable try three minutes from time, while the Sharks’ only second-half points were compliments of Jean-Luc Du Plessis’ second penalty, which sealed the 21-13 victory.
Sharks 13 (10) – Try: Neil Maritz. Conversion: Jean-Luc Du Plessis. Penalties: Jean-Luc Du Plessis.
MTN Golden Lions 21 (16) – Tries: Calvin Smith, Kyle van Dalen. Conversion: Brandan Hewit. Penalties: Brandan Hewit (3).