Bulls too good for WP
The Blue Bulls rugby team scored 21 unanswered second-half points to beat Western Province 47-27 on the second day of the Under-18 Craven Week in Port Elizabeth.
The Bulls trailed 27-26 at the break in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, but converted tries in the 56th, 59th and 61st minutes took the wind out of WP’s sails, establishing the boys from Pretoria as the team to beat at the flagship Youth Week.
Hosts Eastern Province and KwaZulu-Natal produced scintillating rugby on Monday in beating the Valke 41-17 and Free State 48-24.
The Bulls and WP had their work cut out to match these exploits, and they promptly delivered in a high-tempo game in which 10 tries were scored.
There were also wins on Tuesday for Zimbabwe, EP Country Districts, SWD and the Pumas.
In the main match, WP, who have played in the tournament’s unofficial final for the past three years, got off to the best possible start when eighthman Petrus Bothma crashed over in the third minute.
South Africa U20 Junior World Cup-winning flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked the conversion, but soon after, loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman barged over from a tapped penalty five metres from the WP line.
Flyhalf Ryno Eksteen made it 7-7, but Pollard kicked a 14th-minute penalty to put WP in the lead once again.
The Cape boys increased their lead to 10 soon after, when fullback Jason Worrall scooted through for Pollard to convert from the touchline.
The Bulls were equal to the task, with centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg muscling his way over for a converted try to cut the deficit to 14-17, which soon became 21-17 to the boys from Pretoria when Marcus Kleinbooi went over from a sweeping attack.
The sides continued their tit-for-tat scoring, WP hooker Chad Solomon and Bulls prop Dayan van der Westhuizen going over before Pollard nailed a 34th-minute penalty to give his side a one-point lead at the break.
After the deluge of points in the opening period, there was a lull until 21 minutes into the second half, when 21 points in a matter of five minutes were scored.
This started with Bulls centre Jurie Linde putting his side ahead after a good build-up down the left-hand touchline.
No sooner had Eksteen converted than fullback Jaco Hayward dotted down on the hour to make it 40-27, followed a minute later by a second try to Kleinbooi to put the result beyond doubt.
The main curtain-raiser, between the Pumas and the Griffons, produced another 10-try thriller after the Northern Free State side produced a stirring second-half comeback.
The Griffons trailed 31-5 at one stage, but three quick tries, to flanker Andre Jansen van Vuuren, wing David Tippens and centre Shaun Reynolds, made it a seven-point game with six minutes remaining.
The boys from Mpumalanga, who played superb rugby in the first half, finished strongly, dotting down twice in the dying minutes to claim a deserved 48-24 victory.