EP magic at Craven Week
Eastern Province ran in five tries on their way to a convincing 41-17 victory over the Valke in the last fixture of the opening day at the 2012 Craven Week.
It's a big and beautiful stadium – the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth where the 49th Craven Week is taking place, but the impression of vast emptiness did nothing for the atmosphere – nor did the five speeches (two read) and the bout of jerks that were nether athletic nor aesthetic.
The opening ceremony was flat and unbecoming of such a great occasion.
But then came the final match of the day and electric moments for the home side as they beat the Valke, scoring five tries to two. As in the case of the match before that, KwaZulu-Natal vs Free State, one had the feeling that the winning team lost interest and would otherwise have won by far more.
When Eastern Province were sharp, they were far too sharp for the Valke which started the match with a bout of the jitters, knocking on three times in the first two minutes.
In fact they knocked on at the first kick-off and Eastern Province were hammering at their line. Eastern Province had a scrum on the far left and went right. One tackle and quick ball and Sergeal Petersen raced over on the right and round to the posts. Theo Stapelberg converted. 7-0 after four minutes.
Stapelberg added a penalty and Ruan Potgieter another a minute later to make it 10-3 after 12 minutes.
Eastern Province kicked off and Petersen all but caught the kick-off, which would have given him a second try. In fact this part of the match belonged entirely to Eastern Province who dominated all phases of play.
They were much stronger in the scrums, the Valke lost eight throws into their line-outs and threw a ninth in skew, this despite having the tallest player at Craven Week in JP du Preez who is 2,09m tall. In addition, Eastern Province won many turnovers, several; thanks to flank CJ Velleman.
Eastern Province's second try was brilliant. From a scrum, just inside the Valke half, they went left and Stapelberg broke clean through. Marcello Plaatjies cut in on Stapelberg's right and the flyhalf gave him the ball. He in turn passed further inside to Petersen who came racing off his wing and over for the try. It was a delicious rugby moment. 17-3 after 19 minutes.
The Valke had a six-metre line-out and overthrew the ball. They did this on three other occasions in the match, which made kicking penalties to touch a waste of time. But they were on the attack and Luan Potgieter gave left wing Ruan Potgieter an overlap. The big wing zoomed for the corner but was just out.
The Valke attacked and were within five metres of the Eastern Province line when they conceded a turnover and the home side broke out at speed. Electric Selvyn Davids flashed down the left, playing inside to big Aidon Davis who scored. 24-3 after 31 minutes.
One half and three magnificent tries.
The siren for half-time had sounded when the Valke bashed to the line and Johan Oosthuizen forced his way over for the try that made the score 24-10 at the break.
The Valke attacked, but Eastern Province turned over the ball and broke out with a long kick downfield and Petersen racing after the ball. The Valke kicked clear but it was straight to Davids and an electric shudder and a burst gave him what looked like a simple try at the posts. It was exquisite. 31-10 after 47 minutes and 38-10 three minutes later when massive Matthew Moore forced his way over.
Stapelberg kicked a penalty and near the end the Valke had a good period of attack. First the TMO detected a knock-on in their effort to score and then from a five-metre scrum on their left they went right and left wing Leon Potgieter, big and speeding, cut through for a try under the posts.
The Valke were still attacking at the end but without adding to their score.
* In earlier Craven Week action on Monday, the Leopards beat Namibia 36-29, Boland beat Griquas 16-12, the Lions beat Border 29-14 and KwaZulu-Natal smashed Free State 48-24 in a superb performance by the Men from KZN.
For Eastern Province:
Tries: Petersen 2, Davis, Davids, Moore
Cons: Stapelberg 5
Pens: Stapelberg 2
Tries: Oosthuizen, L Potgieter
Cons: R Potgieter 2
Pen: R Potgieter
Eastern Province: 22 Whayburn Howley, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Marcelle Plaatjies, 12 Luan Nieuwoudt, 11 Selvyn Davids, 10 Theo Stapelberg, 20 Luciano Daniels, 8 Aidon Davis (captain), 7 Ray Williams, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 Gareth Ehret, 18 Erwin Slabbert, 3 Bart le Roux, 16 Justin Antonie, 1 Matthew Moore.
Replacements: 2 Johnathan Louw, 17 Lloyd Parker, 4 Roche van Hall, 19 Loxolo Koza, 9 Francois Nel, 21 Phelo Mfini, 15 Gary Loest.
Valke: 15 Waylon Thompson, 21 Jacqone de Villiers, 20 Michiel Mostert, 12 Frederick van Wyk, 14 Leon Potgieter, 10 Ruan Potgieter, 9 Christiaan Meyer (captain), 8 Anton Viljoen, 7 Kyle van Dalen, 19 Joswin de Wee, 5 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 4 Johan Oosthuizen, 3 Werner Janse van Rensburg, 2 André Myburgh, 1 John Moisi.
Replacements: 16 Danru Bender, 17 Francois Booyse, 18 Ashley Sibisibi, 6 Sipho Nhleko, 13 Eldron van Rooyen, 11 Xoliswa Ngwenya, 22 Lecheko Mokoena.
Referee: Gerrie de Bruin
Assistant referees: Rodney Bonaparte, Pieter de Villiers
TMO: Jaco Kotzé