Middelburg, 18 July, 2014.
Eastern Province emerged as the unofficial U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week champions for 2014 after beating SWD 25-7 in final game of the week at HTS Middelburg on Saturday.
Tradition demands that there is no real winner of the Craven Week – the honour of playing in the final game on the main field on the last day is supposed to go to the two teams that played the most attractive rugby in the first four days.
There’s no doubt that, on that basis, EP are worthy unofficial champions. They scored some spectacular tries and, in the process beat the Blue Bulls, Free State and SWD, three teams that have dominated the week through the years.
In the final game they scored three good tries, two of them in the first half, and they led 20-0 at half time. They could only add one second half try, but SWD were well beaten by then.
EP have played in several finals in recent years, but this is he first time they have won it since 1977, when they beat Western Province. In 1994 they drew with Border in the last game of the week.
Eastern Province scored tries through Athenkos Mayinje, Johan Van Niekerk and Stephanus Niewwoudt, Curwin Bosch kicked two penalties and two conversions. The SWD try was scored by Dominic Smith and converted by JT Thomas.
In the main curtain-raiser the Blue Bulls beat KwaZulu-Natal 36-15. They outplayed the Young Sharks in every department and showed that, if they had not gone down to EP by a single point in their opening fixture, they might have been worthy participants in the main game.
Western Province saved their best performance for last, outplaying Free State to win 37-29.
The Golden Lions ended off what was a disappointing week with a good win over the hosts, the Pumas. They raced to an early lead and led 39-10, before the Pumas staged a comeback and closed the gap to 39-24 in end.
The Northern Free State Griffons were the only other side, apart from Eastern Province to win all three matches. They beat the Leopards 44-24 on Saturday.
It was announced that the names of the 50 players who will attend trials to choose the South African School team, in Kempton Park next Saturday, will be released on Monday.
Golden Lions 39 Pumas 24, Western Province 37 Free State 29, Blue Bulls 36 KwaZulu-Natal 15, Eastern Province 25 SWD 7.
Namibia 38 Zimbabwe 25, Boland 56 Limpopo Blue Bulls 24, Valke 35 Eastern Province Country 13.
Griquas Country 60 Border Country 21, Border 55 Griquas 26, Griffons 44 Leopards 24.