KwaZulu-Natal beat South Western Districts 65-26 at the U18 Craven Week at St Stithians in Johannesburg on Thursday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
After supreme performances on day two, both sides earned the privilege to contest the main game on day four, with a place in the unofficial final at stake.
KZN didn’t come into this game as clear-cut favourites, but turned on the style to outscore SWD 10 tries to four.
KZN were full of running, but it was their precise execution that set them apart. They were ruthlessly accurate in every aspect of play and SWD just could not handle the pressure.
The halfback axis 0f Sanele Nohamba and Jaden Hendrikse was instrumental in KZN’s success, while centres Conan le Fleur and Lwandile Menze, and captain and No 8 Phendulani Buthelezi stood out in defence.
KZN looked ominous from the start. They sped to a 31-5 lead inside the opening half, thanks to a flurry of tries scored by wings Njabulo Mjara and Morne van Rensburg, locks JJ van der Mescht and Celimpilo Gumede, and Buthelezi.
SWD finished the half strongly, though, as they scored two late efforts against the run of play through centre Jay Cee Nel and blockbusting hooker SP Kleinhans. But their joy was short-lived as KZN closed the half by scoring their sixth for a 38-12 lead.
SWD began the second half positively. They hung on to the ball for longer periods of time and strung together more phases than they had done before the break. Sensing a bit of complacency in opposition ranks, SWD took on KZN’s defence, and from a move originating inside their own half, No 8 Ruben Coetzee finished off a brilliant team effort. Flyhalf James Mollentze nailed the conversion to cut the deficit to 19.
However, SWD’s hopes of a comeback were quickly smothered as KZN upped the ante and wrestled back the momentum again.
Hendrikse split the uprights with the only penalty of the game, before his teammates began another onslaught against SWD’s brittle defence.
Flank Dylan Kruger and Buthelezi rounded off superb efforts in the space of four minutes to get KZN over the 50-point mark. Versatile loosehead prop Thabiso Mdletshe then benefited from a couple of devastating runs by the backline players to complete a quick-fire brace.
Replacement fullback Clyde Lewis ran the length of the field for SWD’s final try, but by then KZN’s blowout victory had long been confirmed.
KwaZulu-Natal – Tries: Njabulo Mjara, Morne van Rensburg, JJ van der Mescht, Celimpilo Gumede, Phendulani Buthelezi (2), Ntuthuko Mchunu, Dylan Kruger, Thabiso Mdletshe (2). Conversions: Jaden Hendrikse (4), Sanele Nohamba (2). Penalty: Hendrikse.
SWD – Tries: JC Nel, SP Kleinhans, Ruben Coetzee, Clyde Lewis. Conversions: James Mollentze (3).
KwaZulu-Natal – 15 Cham Zondeki, 14 Morne van Rensburg, 13 Conan le Fleur, 12 Lwandile Menze, 11 Njabulo Mjara, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 6 Dylan Kruger, 5 JJ van der Mescht, 4 Celimpilo Gumede, 3 Brendon Schwuister, 2 Daniel Truter, 1 Thabiso Mdletshe.
Subs: 16 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 17 Jordan Clarke, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Edward Laubscher, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Dylan Pretorius, 22 Siyanda Cele, 23 Rynhardt Jonker.
SWD – 15 Darryn Fortuin, 14 14 Curtley Scheepers, 13 Emilio Otto, 12 Jay Cee Nel, 11 Dillan Pieterse, 10 James Mollentze, 9 Sylvester Hassiem, 8 Ruben Coetzee, 7 Braam van Huysten, 6 Sibusiso Vilani, 5 Louis Meiring, 4 Daniel van der Berg, 3 Magnus Muller, 2 SP Kleinhans, 1 Nicolai Weber.
Subs: 16 Keano Hendricks, 17 Robin West, 18 Dian Bleuler, 19 Hanu Heunis, 20 Lian du Toit, 21 Clyde Lewis, 22 Taute Taute, 23 Joshua Hermanus.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images