Western Province and the Golden Lions played to a 13-13 draw after a brutal battle at the U18 Craven Week in Johannesburg on Wednesday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
In one of the most closely contested games at the tournament so far, the defence from both sides was of the highest order, which made for an enthralling encounter and a test of attrition.
There were two tries either way, but neither side could find the weaponry in their arsenal to completely shut down the opposition’s stern defence. And it was rather refreshing, given the number of high-scoring games we’ve seen over the past three days.
Each team held its own in the scrums, but the lineouts were a shambles and the breakdown point a royal mess, while goal-kicking and the handling skills were other aspects in this game that weren’t very impressive. And yet it didn’t make this any less of a grandstand finish to day three.
Province speedster Angelo Davids scored within 50 seconds of the kick-off after Thaakir Abrahams made a scintillating break through the middle. But that was it for the remainder of the first half as the teams struggled to make further inroads.
However, WP breached the Lions’ line soon after the restart. This time, Abrahams’ twinkling feet carried him over the tryline after just 28 seconds. Muller du Plessis again missed the conversion.
Then the Lions found their second wind. Helpmekaar’s star wing David Cary, who has signed a contract to join the Lions after school, stepped brilliantly off both feet to score in the corner and that was followed by a try from teammate Tino Swanepoel, which levelled the scores at 10-10.
There were ample other scoring opportunities, but again both sides scrambled well to prevent a try being scored.
The Lions dominated possession during the latter parts of the match, and when Province were penalised inside their 22 at scrum time, the captain immediately pointed to the posts and fullback Kennedy Mpeku picked a good time to land his first successful kick, giving the Lions a 13-10 lead, with nine minutes remaining.
The Lions went on the attack immediately after the restart and moved into WP’s 22, but then conceded a penalty and WP ran the ball out of danger. The Lions were penalised again, this time on the other side of the field, handing Province a chance to level matters. Not to be outdone by Mpeku, flyhalf Quan Eymann coolly slotted his first successful attempt at goal to draw the scores level, and that is how it ended.
Western Province – Tries: Angelo Davids, Thaakir Abrahams. Penalty: Quan Eymann.
Golden Lions – Tries: David Cary, Tino Swanepoel. Penalty: Kennedy Mpeku.
Western Province – 15 Muller du Plessis, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Dawid Kellerman, 12 Rufus Dercksen, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Quan Eymann, 9 Vusile Dlepu, 8 Henco Martins, 7 Philip van Dyk, 6 Vian Fourie, 5 Adrian Alberts, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Hames du Preez, 2 Josh Muller, 1 Alexander Mbete.
Subs: 16 Christiaan Rossouw, 17 Hugo Pienaar, 18 Tristan Leitch, 19 Herman le Roux, 20 Sujai Ikemefuna, 21 Gerado Jaars, 22 Mogamat Karriem, 23 Duren Hoffman.
Golden Lions – 15 Kennedy Mpeku, 14 David Cary, 13 Leon Mpeku, 12 Yanga Hlalu, 11 Tino Swanepoel, 10 Marc Morrison, 9 Tinus Combrinck, 8 Travis Gordon, 7 Franco Schutte, 6 Mark Snyman, 5 PJ Jacobs, 4 Kwagga van Niekerk, 3 Keagan Glade, 2 Morne Brandon, 1 Nkosikhona Masuke.
Subs: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Ruhan Oosthuizen, 18 Asenathi Ntlabake, 19 Stephan le Roux, 20 Kegan Litchfield, 21 Luke Rossouw, 22 Tyler Hayward, 23 Muzi Manyike.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images