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Big wins on Wednesday took centre stage in the main games of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Coca-Cola Academy Week at Kearsney College in Durban to spice up the competition as the final day’s play draws nearer.

In the last two matches in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, DHL Western Province outplayed hosts, the Sharks, 60-5, and the Pumas overpowered Namibia 51-15. In the Coca-Cola Academy Week, the Sharks defeated Border 40-25.

In stark contrast, DHL Western Province had to work hard for their 31-29 victory against the Bidvest Golden Lions in the Coca-Cola Academy Week to emerge as one of the main contenders to battle it out in the final match of the tournament on Saturday.

The victories for all four teams ensured that they will enter the final day’s play on Saturday unbeaten.

Wednesday’s play was riveting, with a total of 702 points scored across the two tournaments – 350 of which were scored in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week from 50 tries and 352 in the Coca-Academy Week from 52 tries.

In the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, Western Province, who won the final match of the 2015 tournament with a stunning 95-0 victory, showed that they could be equally threatening this season as they as they cruised to a 43-0 half-time score against the Sharks.

Such was the high quality of their attack they ran circles around the Sharks to cross the chalk seven times, while their effective defence denied the hosts from getting close to the tryline. The Cape side continued to force their way through the defence in the second half to add two more tries to their tally.The Sharks fought back with intent as they put together phases on attack and ran hard at Western Province, while they tightened up their defence. These efforts were rewarded with a try, but the five points proved to be their only points of the match, as a combination of mistakes at crucial times the tenacious Western Province defence continued to shut them out. The Capetonians added a penalty in the 60th minute to take the score to 60-5, which proved to be final score.

The opening exchanges between the Pumas and Namibia were tight with the visitors touching down the first try of the match in the 15th minute. The Pumas hit back immediately with two tries in five minutes and a penalty to force their way into the lead.

Namibia responded with a penalty before the break to reduce the deficit to 10 points. The Mpumalanga side, however, ran the show in the second half with their effective attack and solid rounding-off, which earned them five more tries to stretch their score to 51. Despite trailing far behind, Namibia refused to give up and touched down for their second try to go down 51-15.

Boland opened up the scoring in their clash with a try in the fourth minute, but a penalty by the Port Elizabeth side followed by a brace of three tries in 10 minutes and another penalty pushed them into a comfortable 30-7 half-time lead.

Boland, however, came out firing in the second half thanks to a skilful display in which they crossed the tryline four times, while they limited Eastern Province to only one try. But the Wellington side’s efforts fell just short as they went down 37-33.

In the early games the Thepa Trading Griffons pipped GWK Griquas Rural 34-32 and GWK Griquas sailed to a 78-5 victory against Old Mutual Zimbabwe.

The Griffons showed their class on attack from the outset as they ran in four tries in the first 31 minutes, while Griquas Rural kicked two penalties and scored one try to trail 24-13 at the break. Griquas Rural continued to keep the scoreboard ticking with penalty goals in the second half, with flyhalf Iwan Lombard slotting over six in the match and two conversions for 22 points. They also added a last-minute try, but this was not enough to sneak into the lead as the Griffons added two second-half tries to their tally, which allowed them to hold on for the 34-32 victory.

Griquas delivered a solid performance on attack and defence against Zimbabwe and they did well to take advantage of the space out-wide to pile on the tries throughout the match. Zimbabwe tried hard to make their presence felt, but handling errors denied them from applying pressure on Griquas, which left them with only one try for their efforts. In stark contrast Griquas touched down a staggering 12 times for a rewarding 78-5 Victory.

Wing Cameron Huffke scored four of these tries and slotted over nine conversions for a personal total of 38 points.

In the Coca-Cola Academy Week, Border stunned hosts, the Sharks, early on in their clash as they took advantage of a yellow card for the home team to score their first try and added another six minutes later. The Sharks cancelled this out with two of their own before the break.

Border, however, had the final say as they slotted over a penalty on the stroke of half time to take an 18-12 lead. This served as motivation for the hosts, as they delivered a determined second-half performance to run in an impressive four tries, which shut the East London side out of the match. Despite this Border, fought until the end and earned a try for their efforts, which saw them go down 40-25.

The clash between DHL Western Province and the Bidvest Golden Lions was thrilling, with Lions clawing their way back from a 28-3 deficit, but were denied by a last-gasp penalty by the Cape side.

Western Province stunned the Lions with a quartet of tries in the first half, while the Johannesburg side only kicked a penalty in return. But the tide turned for the Lions after the break and they hit back with four tries to take a 29-28 lead. Western Province were awarded a late penalty, which Theo Boshoff slotted over to snatch a 31-29 win.

The SA LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) team also won their second match in the tournament as they recorded a 38-26 victory against Griffons CD.

The SA LSEN team stamped their authority early in the match as they scored three converted tries in the first 12 minutes to work their way to an encouraging 21-0 lead at the break. The Griffons CD, however, forced their way back into the match with back-to-back tries in the opening exchanges of the second half to create a competitive final quarter.

Both teams added two tries as the match progressed, but a handy penalty by the SA LSEN team in the 66th minute allowed them to wrap up the 38-26 victory.

In the opening three matches of the day, SWD defeated Eastern Province CD 30-15 and the Blue Valke secured a 36-24 victory against GWK Griquas Rural, while the Pumas defeated the Thepa Trading Griffons 36-17.

SWD staged a strong second-half comeback from 8-0 down at the break to power their way to victory as they out-scored Eastern Province CD five tries to two, while the Blue Valke dominated their clash against Griquas Rural from the outset as they used their point-scoring chances effectively to secure the victory.

The Pumas, meanwhile, took control of their clash against the Griffons from the outset as they forced their way over the tryline three times in the first 20 minutes, while they limited the Welkom side to one try in the first half, which earned them a 19-5 lead. They built on this shortly after the break with two back-to-back tries to stretch their lead to 36 points. The Griffons fought back strongly and scored two tries in five minutes shortly before the final whistle, but these efforts proved to be too little too late.

In Thursday’s matches Eastern Province CD and Border CD will kick off the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week at 09h35, while the Limpopo Blue Bulls and Konica Minolta Free State will meet in the opening match of the Coca-Cola Academy Week at 08h35.

The main games in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week will see the Pumas line up against Namibia and DHL Western Province take on hosts, the Sharks.

In the top clashes in the Coca-Cola Academy Week, meanwhile, the Blue Bulls will be pitted against the Leopards, Eastern Province will take on the Red Valke and Boland will go head-to-head with Namibia.

U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day three results (Wednesday, 13 July – Kearsney Stott Field):

Note to Editors: Click on the hyperlinks below to get the run-of-play for each match

Thepa Trading Griffons 34 (24) – 32 (13) GWK Griquas Rural

GWK Griquas 78 (26) – 5 (0) Old Mutual Zimbabwe

Boland 33 (7) – 37 (30) Eastern Province

Pumas 51 (20) – 15 (10) Namibia

DHL Western Province 60 (43) – 5 (0) Sharks

U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day four fixtures (Thursday, 14 July – Kearsney Stott Field):

09h35 – Eastern Province CD vs Border CD

11h00 – Valke vs Komati Fruit Limpopo Blue Bulls

12h25 – Border vs SWD

13h50 – Free State vs Leopards

15h15 – Enrista Blue Bulls vs Bidvest Golden Lions

Coca-Cola Academy Week day three results (Wednesday, 13 July – AH Smith Oval):

Eastern Province CD 15 (8) – 30 (0) SWD

Blue Valke 36 (24) – 24 (12) GWK Griquas Rural

Thepa Trading Griffons 17 (5) – 36 (19) Pumas

DHL Western Province 31 (28) – 29 (3) Bidvest Golden Lions

Sharks 40 (12) – 25 (18) Border

Griffons CD 26 (0) – 38 (21) SA LSEN

Coca-Cola Academy Week day four fixtures (Thursday, 14 July – AH Smith Oval):

08h35 – Limpopo Blue Bulls vs Konica Minolta Free State

09h55 – Border CD vs GWK Griquas

11h15 – Sharks CD vs Pumas CD

12h35 – Blue Bulls vs Leopards

13h55 – Eastern Province vs Red Valke

15h15 – Boland vs Namibia

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