GARETH DUNCAN watched the Blue Bulls rally to a 47-0 victory over the Golden Lions in the U18 Craven Week unofficial final at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The best team were crowned the unofficial champions this year.
The schoolboys from Pretoria were the best trained squad and showed great cohesion throughout the week. The pack dominated, their backline play was superb and most importantly, they showed great composure and a clinical edge when it came to try-scoring opportunities.
Despite the heavy rain and slippery field, the Bulls adapted best. During the build-up to this game, head coach Riaan Brandt believed the wet weather was going to restrict his dangerous backs. But the speedsters still managed to run riot when the chances arose, with midfield combination Rohan Jansen van Rensburg and Jurie Linde the standout performers.
The Golden Lions, who have been proud of their defence and physicality this week, struggled in the wet conditions and were completely outplayed. They failed to build any momentum and were on the back foot for most parts of the game. While they monstered most of the scrum battles, the closest they came to scoring was a missed penalty from flyhalf Jako van der Walt in the second half.
With the rain storming down in the opening 35, it was difficult for both teams to have any continuity with ball in hand. But the Bulls managed to finish off a drive into the Lions’ 22m area, with Jansen van Rensburg sneaking in at the corner after some smart passes.
Flyhalf Ryno Eksteen added the extras and a penalty as the Bulls held a 10-0 lead at half-time.
The rain stopped after the break, but it only made things easier for the leaders. It was one-way traffic as the Bulls ran in another six tries via Jansen van Rensburg, flank Thabo Mabuza, outside centre Linde, fullback Jaco Hayward, wing Marquit September and No 8 Steven Meiring.
EP, who were unbeaten during the tournament, might feel disappointed for not being given a spot in the unofficial final on their home ground, instead of the Lions. But to be fair, the Bulls were a class apart from all the other teams.
While Eksteen and Meiring will be joining WP after school next year (rumours that Jansen van Rensburg will head to the Cape are untrue), most of this year’s players in the Bulls squad will remain at the union.
Another scary sight is the talent that will be heading to Pretoia in 2013, including Maritzburg College twins Daniel and Jesse Kriel and Paarl Gym and Baby Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard. The Bulls clearly have the best recruitment system in the country.