The Capetonians emerged as the top team in the competition last year, and are expected to enter their match with a target on their back.

The SA Rugby Craven Week delivered another thrilling round of hard running and physical play at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Thursday, with high-scoring matches attracting cheers from supporters throughout the day.

It was a particularly rewarding day for the Thepa Trading Griffons and Assupol Blue Bulls, who registered their second round of victories, which will see them enter Saturday’s closing round as only four unbeaten teams. The others are DHL Western Province and the SWD Eagles.

U18 SA Rugby Craven Week match summaries:

It was high drama in the final match of the day between DHL Western Province XV and the Assupol Blue Bulls as the Pretoria side’s fullback Geraldo Flusk scored a late try and converted it for a 36-34 lead with seconds to play, and they then managed to hold on for the win. The match was physical from the outset as both sides tried to use their forwards to gain ascendancy and backed it up with some determined play from their backs.

The Capetonians powered their way to a 29-10 halftime lead in a confident showing, but the Assupol Blue Bulls fought back with intent after play resumed and their tenacity paid off, with a conversion proving to be the difference in the end. Both sides scored five tries, but the Assupol Blue Bulls kicked four conversions to three by DHL Western Province XV’s three, to add to a penalty goal by each side.

The Thepa Trading Griffons delivered a classy performance against the Assupol Blue Bulls XV for a substantial 50-22 victory, which featured a Duncan Amsterdam (centre) hat-trick. The Welkom side’s forwards and backs complimented each other well, while they did well to round off their try-scoring opportunities for a total of seven tries. Juan-roscoe Ruiters (winger) also made his presence felt with two tries.

The EP Elephants put their hard-running backs and forwards to good use against New Vaal Griquas, which paved the way for their comprehensive 43-12 victory. The boys from Kimberley often found themselves scrambling on defence, especially in the first half, as the Eastern Cape outfit snuffed out the gaps in the defence and worked their way through those. This earned them an encouraging 31-5 halftime lead, which they built on after the break to score seven tries – two of which were by hooker Christopher Poole.  

The Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls were in sublime form against the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV as they ran hard on attack and broke through the defence at will for a 46-24 victory. The Limpopo outfit backed up this fine attacking form with brute physicality, which saw them force their way over the advantage line throughout the game. A total of six players scored their eight tries, but fullback Brandon Cronje was the stand-out player with his hat-trick. Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV winger Sifiso Dlamini scored twice for his side, but the Johannesburg side’s defence cost them dearly.

A penalty goal in front of the goal posts in the final minute, meanwhile, saw Border edge Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 39-36 in an epic clash. Border started strongly but the Gauteng side fought back and the result was a ding-dong clash in which one team scored followed by the other for most of the match. The teams were so well balanced they entered the break tied at 17-17 and went into the final minute of the game level at 36-36 before replacement flyhalf Warrick Day kicked the winning points. Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions winger Tj Maguranyanga and centre Ngia Selengbe, and Border winger Indiphile Tyeda all earned braces in the match.

U18 SA Rugby Craven Week Day Four results (Thursday, 4 July):

Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls 46-24 Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV

EP Elephants 43-12 New Vaal Griquas

Thepa Trading Griffons 50-22 Assupol Blue Bulls XV

Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 36-39 Border

Assupol Blue Bulls 36-34 DHL Western Province XV

U18 SA Rugby Craven Week Day Five fixtures (Saturday, 6 July – Grey College):

08h00 – Cell C Sharks v Thepa Trading Griffons (A Field)

08h00 New Vaal Griquas v Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV (B Field)

09h30 – Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions v Bizhub Free State Cheetahs (A Field)

09h30 – Leopards v Unitrans Limpopo Blue Bulls (B Field)

11h00 – Border v Boland (A Field)

11h00 – NWU Valke v Assupol Blue Bulls XV (B Field)

12h30 – SWD Eagles v DHL Western Province XV (A Field)

12h30 – EP Elephants v Phakisa Pumas (B Field)

14h00 – DHL Western Province v Assupol Blue Bulls (A Field)