THERE were mixed fortunes for the Eastern Province Craven Week under-18 rugby teams in Polokwane yesterday.
While the EP Country Districts side beat the Leopards 35-10 in the opening game of day two, the Eastern Province side suffered a 32-21 defeat at the hands of the Free State in the main game.
Despite the loss, the EP side sent a message of real intent to their other opposition this week as they arguably were the better side up until the last 10 minutes of the game.
The side were 10-0 down in the opening exchanges but got their first points on the board through centre Luan Nieuwoudt (Nico Malan) who finished off a great team effort from a 22m restart.
The next try came in the form of Malcolm Jaer (Brandwag), who finished off a fine setpiece move off the scrum, with his balanced running and his ability to step.
Flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg (Framesby) kept his side in reach with his goal-kicking.
With the score at 22-21 to Free State with 10 minutes to play, an upset was on the cards, as a resurgent team effort from the other side of the field found EP on the Free State try line.
It was a try, a few minutes later, by Free State that put EP to bed.
EP Country Districts proved formidable opposition for the Leopards, of North West.
Flyhalf Jason Vers (Union High School) knocked over the first points of the match through a long-range penalty just short of half way.
Shortly after, the Country Districts forwards carried well to give their backs the go-forward ball and territory necessary to create the space for a try in the corner by fullback Gordon- Wayne Plaatjiies (Graeme College).
Man of the match Vers initiated a contender for try of the tournament, opting to run out his 22, where calculated touches from the backs allowed flanker Sintu Manjezi (St Andrew’s College) to cash in for his great support, running to cross over and make it 21-5 at the break.
Although errors plagued the second half, the Leopards showed strong resilience through following their second try. Scrumhalf Qhama Masiza (Adelaide Gymnasium) and centre Robbie Ball (St Andrew’s College) added to Country Districts’ four-try tally.
SWD lost to the Lions 34-27 in a terrific, high- intensity performance by both sides. Captain Geor Malan led his team with distinction, and the combination of the Oakdale and Outeniqua players leaves much anticipation for their side’s next encounter tomorrow.