Free State beat the Blue Bulls 32-13 to secure their spot in the unofficial Craven Week final.
Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen was the star of the first-half, scoring 17 of Free State’s 22 points via four penalties and a try. Goosen then turned provider, spreading the ball down the line for wing Brian Malakwane to touch down in the corner.
The baby Bulls were still within reach as flyhalf Tony Jantjies converted a penalty and fullback Jacques Lombard dived over to finish off a good team try.
Goosen successfully kicked his fifth penalty early in the second half. Shortly afterwards, Jantjies also converted one to keep the boys from Pretoria in the game.
The Bulls gained some momentum and fought hard to breach the Cheetahs’ defence, but their efforts were in vain as Free State fullback Riaan Britz intercepted a wild pass and ran the length of the field to score a great try.
Free State will face WP in the unofficial final in East London on Saturday.
Leopards 26 Limpopo 11
The Leopards came from behind to stay undefeated at this year’s Craven Week.
Limpopo took a 3-0 lead as fullback Christiaan Buys slotted an early penalty. However, they were reduced to 14 players after lock JJ Breet – who was the four-try hero in the previous game – was red-carded for a spear-tackle.
Limpopo still managed to add to their lead through a try by other lock Ulrich Bester. However, the Leopards got themselves back into the game as the team ran several phases to put wing Schaba Monyaki in the corner.
The boys from North-West scored three more tries to take the lead in the second half. Wing Khosto Leepile, fullback Reohn van Zyl and centre Charles Hitchcock all crossed the line as the Leopards’ backline took charge of a 14-man Limpopo team.
KZN 23 SA Academy 0
KwaZulu-Natal wing Gary Schwartz played a major role in his team’s win over a 14-man SA Academy side.
Both teams were equally matched as the forwards worked hard to gain possession. However, KZN flyhalf, Frederik Zeilinga successfully kicked a penalty to put his team ahead.
There was a big turning point in the match when Academy centre Heimar Williams was sent off for a spear-tackle. This gave the young Sharks the upper-hand and they extended the lead to 11-0 through a penalty by Zeilinga and a try by Schwartz.
The Academy side could only defend as KZN attacked well using their one-man advantage. Schwartz had several runs where he broke the defence and drove his team deep into the Academy’s half. This paid off as No 8 Francois Kleinhans broke away from a five-metre scrum to score his team’s second try.
The young Sharks finished off in style as lock Cameron Lindsay dove over to score a last-minute try.
Zimbabwe 41 Border CD 0
Zimbabwe thrashed a hapless Border CD to claim their first win at Craven Week.
The first-half was a scrappy affair, with both teams guilty of making too many handling errors. However, Zimbabwe went ahead through a penalty by flyhalf Charles Jiji and a try by wing Andrew Lindsay.
Border CD were poor with the boot, missing two easy attempts at goal. Things worsened for the hosts when flyhalf Mpumzi Rozani was yellow-carded for his second dangerous tackle.
Zimbabwe produced a better performance after the break, scoring five tries through No 8 Justin Coles (2), scrumhalf Duncan Dollar, lock David Watson and flank Luke Rutter.
The hosts finished the game poorly when poor discipline saw wing Odwa Vakubi sin binned for a stiff-arm charge in the ruck.
Eastern Province CD 25 Boland 18
Wing Brian Skozana grabbed a brace as EP CD claimed their first victory at Craven Week this year.
EP CD centre Hanro Louw opening the scoring with a penalty, before wings Nicholas Prinsloo and Skozana both scored tries after running good lines.
Boland had to defend for most of the first stanza, but they managed to get three points just before the break when centre Morne Hugo slotted a penalty.
EP CD started the second half strongly with Skozana breaking away down the touchline to score the try of the match.
The young Elephants had a commanding lead but Boland fought their way back with captain Coenraad Kotze, scrumhalf Conwill Cleophas and No 8 Werner Badenhorst all scoring in the last 20 minutes.
However, Boland’s goal kicking was poor and EP CD managed to hold on for the victory.
Griffons 36 SA LSEN 13
The Griffons produced an excellent team effort to record their first victory at Craven Week.
SA LSEN went ahead early in the game after a penalty from fullback Eben Deysel, with the windy conditions forcing the Griffons to turn down kicks at goal. They took quick taps instead, which worked well as they ran in two tries through wing Mvula Mochesela and prop PW Botha.
SA LSEN wing Marcus Ground scored near the uprights just before the break, to keep his team in the game.
The Griffons made a great start to the second half when they retained the loose ball and No 8 Jacques Steyn scored a try.
The boys from Welkom dominated the rest of the game with good continuity and teamwork that saw centre Andries Kruger and Steyn score two more tries.
Griffons prop Janno van Niekerk was sin binned after ill-discipline at the breakdown, but his side finished the game well with wing Siviwe Booi scoring in the corner.
SA LSEN’s only points in the second half came from a Deysel penalty.
By Gareth Duncan