The Under-13 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Under-16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Weeks got off to a thrilling start at Paarl Gymnasium on Monday with a healthy mix of big wins and tight clashes entertaining an enthusiastic crowd.
The National Girls Under-18 Week, meanwhile, also provided good entertainment at the Northern Cape High School in Kimberley with Border, Western Province, the Leopards, Boland, Zimbabwe, the Limpopo Blue Bulls and the Pumas kicking off their campaigns with victories.
In Paarl, a total 19 matches were played on the opening day of the tournament, which saw the U13 and U16 teams alternating on four fields in a festival of rugby.
In the U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week, hosts, DHL Western Province, who completed the 2015 edition of the tournament as the top team, started their campaign on a winning note as they defeated the Pumas 28-19 in a tightly-fought clash.The home team raced to a 21-5 halftime lead with three tries in nine minutes, but the Pumas hit back shortly before halftime. The Mpumalanga side continued their strong fightback in the second half with two more tries, but a late try by Western Province sealed the 28-19 win.
The Griffons, Griquas, KwaZulu-Natal, Leopards and Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls also registered morale-boosting victories to kick off the tournament on a positive note.
The Griffons recorded the highest score of the day in the U13 tournament with a comprehensive 45-0 victory against Border CD thanks to an impressive seven tries, while the Limpopo side registered a 34-0 win against Border, and Griquas beat African neighbours, Zimbabwe 25-3.
The Leopards, meanwhile, registered a hard-fought 14-5 victory against Boland, who featured in the final match last season, while KwaZulu-Natal pipped Namibia 22-19.
In the only draw of the day, Free State and Bidvest Golden Lions played to a 22-22 draw. The Lions started the clash strongly and built up a 15-5 lead at the break, but a strong fightback by the Free State allowed them to secure a draw.
In the U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week the Bidvest Golden Lions and KwaZulu-Natal built on the fine form that earned them places in the final match of the tournament in Oudtshoorn last season, with the Lions defeating the Konica Minolta Free State 50-15, while KwaZulu-Natal beat the Pumas 51-7.
Boland, meanwhile, got the better of their Western Cape neighbours, DHL Western Province, in the final match of the day, as they held their nerve in a nail-biting closing match for a 20-12 victory.
A few other teams also made their presence felt on the opening day with big wins, with the Blue Bulls defeating their sister union, the Limpopo Blue Bulls, 62-15, while the Leopards beat Border 38-11, Zimbabwe defeated Border 41-0 and SWD worked their way to a 20-0 win against Namibia.
The opening day was also rewarding for Griquas, the Western Province XV and Boland XV.
The Bidvest Golden Lions chipped away at their Bloemfontein counterparts in the first half of their clash and managed to build up an encouraging 21-10 lead at the break.
They continued to apply pressure in the second half as their forwards and backs combined well, while their slick passing and effective support play, earned them a total of eight tries. The Konica Minolta Free State, meanwhile, were only able to touch down twice with one successful conversion, while they added a penalty for their 15 points.
KwaZulu-Natal also used the first half to lay a solid foundation in their clash against the Pumas, and built up a 10-0 halftime lead. But they found their rhythm in the second half and earned the rewards as they scored seven tries for their 51 points.
The Blue Bulls, meanwhile, registered the biggest victory of the day as they cruised to 62-15 victory against the Limpopo Blue Bulls, with the team running in an impressive 10 tries to only two by the opposition. Such was the team’s dominance, they marched to a 33-3 halftime lead, and they continued to pile on the pressure after the break, while they did well to capitalise on their chances.
The final match of the day between DHL Western Province and Boland was exhilarating as both teams gave everything on attack and defence to gain an advantage on the scoreboard. Boland took a narrow 8-5 lead in the first half as prop Thomas Bezuidenhout intercepted and raced 50m to score the first try of the match. The hosts, however, crossed the tryline shortly before the break, while Boland added a penalty to take the lead.
The second half was equally tense as the teams both created chances on attack, but they were denied by the tenacious defence at crucial times. Both teams, however, added a second try, but Boland held a narrow 13-12 lead with minutes to go in the clash.
A try in the dying seconds by Boland after spreading the ball wide from a scrum, combined with a solid defensive effort, which forced Western Province into making errors at vital times, however, earned them a fine 20-12 victory.
The Coca-Cola U13 Craven Week will continue on Tuesday, with the Coca-Cola U16 Grant Khomo Week teams taking to the field on Wednesday.
In the National Girls U18 tournament, Border thrashed the Blue Bulls 57-7, while the Leopards thumped the Valke 74-0 and the Pumas beat the Griffons 70-10 in the biggest victories of the day.
Western Province also had a strong start to the tournament with a 12-3 win against Eastern Province, while Boland outscored the Golden Lions 34-14, and Zimbabwe beat SWD 20-5.
The Limpopo Blue Bulls, meanwhile, were made to work for their 17-10 win against Griquas, while Free State and KwaZulu-Natal played to a 10-10 draw.
The players will have Tuesday off to recover and will play their second round of matches on Wednesday.
U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week day one results (Monday, 4 July):
Note to Editors: Click on the hyperlinks below to get the run-of-play for each match
Boland 5 (0), Leopards 14 (7)
Western Province 28 (21), Pumas 19 (5)
Border CD 0, Griffons 45 (28)
Free State 22 (5), Golden Lions 22 (15)
Blue Bulls 14 (8), SWD 12 (0)
Valke 19 (14), Eastern Province 13 (0)
Griquas 25 (17), Zimbabwe 3 (0)
Namibia 19 (7), Sharks 22 (10).
Limpopo Blue Bulls 34 (19), Border 0 (0)
U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week day one results (Monday, 4 July):
DHL Western Province XV 13 (5) – 12 (6) Griffons
Bidvest Golden Lions 50 (21) – 15 (10) Konica Minolta Free State
DHL Western Province 12 (5) – 20 (8) Boland
Valke 24 (5) – 34 (12) Boland XV
Blue Bulls 62 (33) – 15 (3) Limpopo Blue Bulls
Border 11 (6) – 38 (19) Leopards
Eastern Province 10 (3) – 13 (10) Griquas
Border CD 0 (0) – 41 (12) Old Mutual Zimbabwe
SWD 20 (8) – 0 (0) Namibia
KZN 51 (10) – 7 (0) Pumas
U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week day two fixtures (Tuesday, 5 July):
10h00 – Namibia vs Border
11h00 – Griffons vs Boland
12h00 – Leopards vs SWD
13h00 – Sharks vs Griquas
14h00 – Itec Blue Bulls vs Forever Resorts Limpopo Blue Bulls
15h00 – DHL Western Province vs Bidvest Golden Lions
16h00 – TW Profile Services Valke vs Free State
10h00 – Zimbabwe vs Border CD
11h00 – EP vs Pumas
National Girls Under-18 Week day one results (Monday, 4 July):
Leopards 74 – 0 Valke
Western Province 12 – 3 Eastern Province
Golden Lions 15 – 34 Boland
SWD 5 – 20 Zimbabwe
Free State 10 – 10 KZN
Griffons 10 – 70 Pumas
Border 57 – 7 Blue Bulls
Limpopo Blue Bulls 17 – 10 Griquas
National Girls U18 Week day two fixtures (Wednesday, 6 July):
10h00 – Leopards vs Pumas (A Field)
10h00 – Valke vs Griffons (B Field)
11h10 – Free State vs Griquas (A Field)
11h10 – SWD vs Golden Lions (B Field)
12h20 – KZN vs Blue Bulls (A Field)
12h20 – Zimbabwe vs Limpopo Blue Bulls (B Field)
13h30 – Western Province vs Boland (A Field)
14h40 – Border vs Eastern Province (A Field)