Great Match Revives Craven Week
Craven Week is saved. The Blue Bulls beat Western Province XV 36-34 in a match of such brilliant quality that it has pulled Craven Week up out of the bitter ash of the main match the day before and told the world that schools rugby is alive and healthy in South Africa.
It was a match of the highest quality played in the best of spirits. In the end, 10 tries were scored, five apiece, and the winner was decided by a conversion kick five metres in from touch.
The Blue Bulls won and so did Craven Week.
There was a wonderful sight at the end as two opposing players knelt, arms around each other in thankful prayer. It was a day to win as though you’d lost and lose as though you’d won.
The Bulls deserved their 36-34 victory if only for the comeback which was a mixture of courage, determination and skill. All’s well that ends well.
The Western Province XV lead 29-10 at half-time but they added only five points in the second half while their opponents scored 24 points.
Western Province attacked first and kept attacking till Kian Meadon kicked a penalty. Wikus Basson of the Blue Bulls levelled the scores, and Western Province kicked off and scored. Their lively hooker, Keagan Blanckenberg, caught the ball on the full and gave to wing Javier Farmer who swept round for a surprise try. 10-3 in 13 minutes.
Then from a lineout, the Blue Bulls mauled. Western Province stood firm in defence but then the Blue Bulls released the ball and flyhalf Wikus Basson cut between two defenders to score. Basson converted and it was 10-all.
Western Province soon had the lead back with the daintiest of tries. They had a five-metre scrum and bashed but were held up. That gave them a second five-metre scrum. From the scrum, No.8 Jarred Cairns passed to scrumhalf Isameel Saffodien and the scrumhalf skipped over for a try. 15-10.
Saffodien scored again when centre Stephan du Toit had a strong run down the left touchline and passed inside to Saffodien who scored his second try and Province led 22-10 with half-time looming.
On the half-way line, Western Province won a turnover and Saffodien kicked a high box kick. The ball bounced high and chasing Javier Farmer got it and raced off for a try.
At half-time Western Province led 29-10.
At the start of the second half, Western Province had an eminently kickable penalty. They opted for touch and overthrew their five-metre lineout. The Blue Bulls got the ball and big Zeilinga Strydom strode for many metres into the Western Province half. The Blue Bulls went left, right and left again where left wing Hope Sandisiwe had a few easy steps to score. 29-15 after 41 minutes
Again the Blue Bulls attacked. Hooker Enrique Courtiers made good ground from a lineout, the Blue Bulls bashed and Raynard Roets was over for a try, awarded because the TMO believed he had grounded it., 29-22.
The Blue Bulls were on a roll, but it was the Western Province who scored next. They rumbled a maul some 20 metres downfield till Blanckenberg broke away and scored. 34-22 with 16 minutes to play.
This was a time of winning profit for the Blue Bulls. First Strydom forced his way ahead and gave a short pass to AJ Johnson who scored. Scrumhalf Rowan Cloete converted. 34-29 with 15 desperate minutes to play.
A spate of three penalties eventually became a five-metre scrum to the Blue Bulls. They went left and right and there was tall Geraldo Flusk striding elegantly inside a defender to score a try, five metres from touch. 34-34, with the kick to come. Cloete’s kick never looked like missing.
It was a great moment to end a great match.
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Wikus Basson, Hope Sandisiwe
Cons: Wikus Basson 2, Roan Cloete 2
Pen: Wikus Basson
For Western Province XV:
Tries: Isameel Saffodien 2, Javier Farmer 2, Keagan Blanckenberg
Cons: Kian Meadon 3
Pen: Kian Meadon
Blue Bulls: 15 Geraldo Flusk, 14 Bradley Mayekiso, 13 Zeilinga Strydom,12 AJ Johnson, 11 Hope Sandisiwe, 10 Wikus Basson, 9 Rowan Cloete, 8 Willie Potgieter, 7 Simon Muller, 6 Guy-Flori Kibongo, 5 Raynard Roets (captain), 4 Kabelo Muchimane, 3 Sbewu Fipaza, 2 Enrique Courtiers, 1 Nolan Pienaar
Replacements: 16 Jacques-Louis du Toit, 17 Dima Lebelo, 18 Gerhard van der Merwe, 19 Christian Kamffer, 20 MJ Janse van Rensburg, 21 Jurich Claasens, 22 Nsuku Baloyi, 23 Malcolm Langa.
Western Province XV: 15 Cade Croy, 14 Rethabile Louw, 13 Tiaan Swanepoel, 12 Stephan du Toit, 11 Javier Farmer, 10 Kian Meadon, 9 Isameel Saffodien, 8 Jarred Cairns, 7 Jacques Mostert, 6 Stass Nel, 5 Louw Nel, 4 Enos Ndiao, 3 Philip Masanga, 2 Keagan Blanckenberg, 1 H. Smuts
Replacements: 16 Liam Compion, 17 Lamla Nunu, 18 Corné Weilbach, 19 Armand Maritz, 20 Heath Jacobs, 21 Abduragheem Ismail, 22 Ebenezer Tshimanga, 23 Davlon Blood
Referee: Griffin Colby (SARU)
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Phillip Kotze
Television match official: JJ Wagner (SARU)