Middelburg, 14 July, 2014.
The final match of the opening day of the 51st Coca-Cola Craven Week in Middelburg on Monday was a humdinger, with pre-tournament favourites, Western Province, holding out in the face of a ferocious second half onslaught from the hosts, the Pumas, to win by a single point, 33-32.
Province led 30-15 at half time, but could only add a single penalty in the second half, while the Pumas scored three tries and came within whisker of causing a major upset.
The win meant that Province are still on track for a spot in Saturday’s unofficial final, after their under-13, under-16 and Academy Week teams all won the main games in the earlier Coca-Cola youth weeks.
Winger Duncan Saal scored two tries for his side, with lock Jaco Willemse getting the other one. Fullback Tiaan Swanepoel produced a flawless goal-kicking display, slotting three penalties and three conversions for an 18-point contribution.
The Pumas scored four tries, through Barend Smit, Mfundo Ndlovu, Stephan Enslin and Driaan Bester. Flyhalf, Muller Joubert kicked three penalties and two conversions.
Earlier in the day, South Western Districts shocked KwaZulu-Natal by beating them 18-13. The win meant that SWD now have a shot at the coveted main game, although one expects they will be up against Western Province next.
The visitors from Zimbabwe won a lot of friends with their never-say-die attitude. They came back from being 54-17 down against Eastern Province Country to lose 54-43 in the end.
The other winners on day one were the Northern Free State Griffons, 47-20 over Border, and the Limpopo Blue Bulls, who beat Griquas Country 25-19.
On day two the Blue Bulls take on Eastern Province and the Golden Lions play Free State in the big games.
Limpopo Blue Bulls 25 Griquas Country 19, Eastern Province Country 54 Zimbabwe 43, Griffons 47 Border 20, SWD 18 KwaZulu-Natal 13, Western Province 33 Pumas 22.
Griquas v Border Country, Namibia v Leopards, Valke v Boland, Blue Bulls v Eastern Province, Golden Lions v Free State