Defending Champs Bulls stroll into U21 final
UNDER-21 WRAP: The Blue Bulls were in rampant form as they scored 10 tries to book their spot in the SA Rugby Under-21 Championship Final with an impressive 72-26 win over the Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Sunday.
The men from Pretoria held a 20-0 lead at the break and kept increasing that margin in a second half that saw 78 points being scored.
In the second match on Sunday, Western Province, scored a crucial try at the final buzzer as they beat Free State by 47-28, keeping alive their chances to make it to the Final on October 30.
The late try secured the Capetonians a bonus point as they moved from the bottom of the log to third place and back into contention with one round of pool matches remaining.
Next Sunday, the Sharks and Free State (both with four log points) will kick-off at 10.30 (local time), and the match between Western Province (five points) and the Golden Lions (nine points) – which is likely to deliver the other finalist – starts at 13.45 (local time).
The Blue Bulls are the defending champions and have a bye next Sunday, but their big win over the Sharks guaranteed them top spot on the log (15 log points), so all eyes will be on the remaining four teams next Sunday, all of whom still have a mathematical change to qualify for the October 30 showpiece.
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Reports, scores are scorers
Blue Bulls 72 (26), Sharks 26 (0)
Ten tries, seven of which came in a whirlwind second half of their match against the Sharks, eased the Blue Bulls into a very convincing 72-26 win in their final SA Rugby Under-21 Championship pool game.
The coastal side had no answer to the support play shown by the team in blue, and did themselves no favours with some ill-discipline earlier in the match, which helped the Blue Bulls to break the shackles and apply some score board pressure on their opponents.
In fact, the 20-0 scoreline after half an hour of play saw the Sharks chasing the game from early on.
The KwaZulu-Natalians’ flyhalf, Ryhardt Jonker, had an early opportunity with a long range penalty attempt, but the ball bounced off the upright. Instead, it was his opposite number, David Coetzer, who got the first points after nine minutes in what started a mini-scoring spree from the Blue Bulls.
Coetzer then missed two long-range efforts before the water break, which saw the Pretoria outfit with a three-point lead. The next ten minutes were telling though.
First Stravino Jacobs was worked over in the right-hand corner. The Blue Bulls attacked well down the blind side, the wing was got the ball in space and he dotted down. Richard Kriel, who took over the kicking duties, slotted the tight conversion.
That lead was extended two minutes later when a Taakir Abrahams kick was charged down by Diego Appollis and his midfield partner, Jay-Cee Nel pounced. The centre kicked ahead and gave Kriel a second and much easier conversion.
After 30 minutes and 17-0 down, the Sharks suddenly were chasing the game. The Blue Bulls, on the other hand, kept their composure and waited for their opponents to make mistakes. And there were plenty, allowing Kriel to slot a penalty goal from right in front with the first half siren looming.
The lanky left-footed Kriel kicked another penalty goal shortly after the restart before a fine try by Appollis extended the lead to 28 points. The outside centre found space on a counter-attack and ran in from 45m, outsprinting the desperate Sharks cover defence.
The coastal side pulled one back shortly after, when Lucky Dlepu scored. The scrumhalf took a quick tap from a penalty 10m out and stepped past a number of Bulls defenders.
Kriel enjoyed his responsibilities as goal kicker and slotted a long range effort after 55 minutes to take the lead out to 31-5.
The Sharks scored their second try just under the hour mark when Jean Roux (wing) kicked ahead and found the bounce to his favour. Jonker kicked a good conversion from wide out to cut back the lead to 31-12 with 20 minutes to play.
From the restart, the Blue Bulls’ hooker Janco Uys scored his side’s fourth try. The Sharks failed to gather the kick-off, the men in blue pounced and Uys ran onto the final pass to get his third try of the tournament.
A minute later Sebastiaan Jobb ran impressively down the right hand touch to add his name to the score sheet. A turn-over ball saw the Blue Bulls attack the blind side and found the wing speeding away from the cover defence for a 41-12 lead.
An hour into the game, Sharks midfielder Le Roux Malan scored after a strong run and Jonker’s conversion cut the lead back to 41-19.
Jacobs got his second of the match and fifth try of the tournament when he stepped inside his man to dot down in the corner.
Jan-Hendrik Wessels scored their seventh try as the Blue Bulls outworked the Sharks on attack. The ball was moved across the field in a number of phases and Wessels broke the final tackle to dot down under the posts.
Try number eight was another stunner by the Blue Bulls when their replacement centre Marnus Potgieter ran a great line from a lineout attack and his pass found Hendrik du Toit (replacement flank).
A minute later, Ruben Beytell was over as well as the replacement flyhalf ran a great support line to receive the final pass.
Malan scored his second for the Sharks after a counter-attack from way inside their own half, but that try was of academic nature only.
Wessels just restored the dominance with a quick-tap penalty from close range, getting his second of the half. Kriel’s final kick went wide, but he still managed to contribute 19 points to the Blue Bulls’ tally.
For Blue Bulls
Tries: Stravino Jacobs 2, Jay-Cee Nel, Diego Appollis, Janco Uys, Sebastiaan Jobb, Jan-Hendrik Wessels 2, Hendrik du Toit, Ruben Beytell.
Cons: Richard Kriel 5.
Pens: David Coetzer, Kriel 3.
Tries: Lucky Dlepu, Jean Roux, Le Roux Malan 2.
Cons: Rynhardt Jonker 2, Malan.
Western Province 47 (31), Free State 28 (14)
Western Province scored seven tries, including a second hat-trick in as many matches by Blitzbok speedster Angelo Davids (left wing), en route to a 47-28 win over the Free State at Emirates Airline Park.
Crucially the seventh try, by Waqar Solaan (centre), confirmed a crucial bonus point the Capetonians, who are still in the running, despite their slow start.
WP side started with more intent than their opponents from the heartland. De Wet Marais (flanker) scored in the opening minutes following sustained pressure by his side.
Their pack had the early dominance and Chris Schreuder (flyhalf) used his loose forwards to punch holes in the Free State defence. It was off such a play that the loose forward bust through and over the line for the opening score.
The Free Staters gained momentum as WP conceded a number of penalties and from one of those, near the Province line, Free State opted for a scrum. This worked in their favour as Cohen Jasper (fullback) blitzed through a gap to score, with Charles Williams (flyhalf) levelling the scores after 17 minutes.
Davids then outpaced the Cheetah defence with a 55m run, showing the Bloemfontein cover defence a clear pair of heels for his first of the afternoon. Schreuder converted to give his side a 14-7 lead at the first water break after 20 minutes of play.
Western Province kept the momentum after the first stop in play and five minutes later, Dian Bleuler (prop) crashed over from an attacking lineout.
Davids extended the lead with his second try, showing his great pace as he ran onto a kick from WP scrumhalf Thomas Bursey.
The Cheetahs were still in it though, thanks to good first phase play and following an attacking lineout, William Moffat (hooker) scored at the back of the maul to bring score back to 26-14 after 31 minutes.
A good try by WP fullback Sibabalwe Xamlashe edged his team further ahead, with a yellow card to Cheetahs wing Cham Mzondeki not helping their cause.
Free State struck despite being a man down with Cornel Korff dotting down after some patience on attack and good inter-passing between forwards and backs saw the scrumhalf dotting down under the sticks.
Davids blitzed in for his third as the team from Bloem completely missed the kick-off and the wing collected the ball to run in unopposed.
Free State were starting to push hard though and a well-timed run by Jasper saw him in for second try as they attacked to the left side from a scrum in the middle of the field, and Jasper looped around to find open space and the try-line.
Schreuder kicked two long-range penalty goals to ease WP out to a 42-28 lead with 12 minutes to play, and while the Free Staters came close, Solaan had the last say with his crucial try in the corner after the final buzzer.
For Western Province
Tries: De Wet Marais, Angelo Davids 3, Dian Bleuler, Sibabalwe Xamlashe, Waqar Solaan.
Cons: Chris Schreuder 3.
Pens: Schreuder 2.
For Free State
Tries: Cohen Jasper 2, William Moffat, Cornel Korff.
Cons: Charles Williams 4.