WESTERN Province produced a record victory in a Craven Week “final” when they smashed Eastern Province 95-0 in Stellenbosch to cap a fine week for the youngsters.
In reality, WP played their final on day one, when they took on the Blue Bulls in the main match and prevailed 20-13, but Saturday’s stunning performance sent smiles around the union’s hierarchy.
The interesting thing about the young WP outfit is that it contained few, if any, outright stars. They were simply a much better team although the likes of centre Cornel Smit from Bishops, wing Ryan Muller from Bellville High and No 8 Khanya Ncusane from Paarl Boys’ High stood out at various times.
The Bulls were unquestionably the second best team at the tournament and completed their week with victories over the Pumas (35-17) and Boland (40-12) after that day-one loss to the home team.
WP were sluggish during their opening win, but found their rhythm on match day two when they met the Griffons, who were surprise winners over Free State on day one.
The Griffons were blown away 65-5 by the home union and after their promising start to the tournament, ended their fixtures with a 47-29 loss against the Golden Lions.
WP’s superb display in the final started with a try for Paul Roos wing Nico Leonard in the first minute, and they never let up from there.
EP, who were the winners of last year’s Craven Week final, and included the muchhyped 2014 SA Schools flyhalf Curwin Bosch in their starting lineup, cowered under the pressure.
In all, WP scored 14 tries with centre Manuel Ras claiming a hat-trick on the day.
The result was an atonement of sorts for WP. In 2007, when Craven Week was previously held in Stellenbosch, WP lost the final by a record 52-3 to Free State.
Free State’s team back then included current Bok prop Coenie Oosthuizen and the Ebersohn twins – Sias and Robert. WP’s lineup in 2007 had Nick Koster, Jurgen Visser and Johann Sadie in its ranks.
This year, WP’s recruiting programme should ensure that most of these youngsters will stay at the union, but the Bulls have aggressively been pursuing various WP players over the course of the past year.
The Golden Lions too have cast envious eyes south.