GARETH DUNCAN watched the Golden Lions deliver a superior physical performance to power to a 17-8 win over KZN in the U18 Craven Week day three feature match in PE.
KZN were considered the favourites to edge this result after their convincing showing against Free State on day one, which saw them win 48-24. The Lions were also disappointing during their 29-14 win over Border.
However, with the tournament rules forcing teams to give all their players a start, the changes KZN made caused disruption and they struggled for cohesion in this vital fixture. They also failed to find the attacking synergy they showed against Free State.
The Lions defended very well and dominated the collisions. The difference in size between the two teams was evident, as the schoolboys from Gauteng were much bigger than their opposition. This all set the platform for victory.
KZN were off to a positive start when flyhalf Rob Anderson kicked a 45m penalty to open the scores. But the Lions surged into the lead when hooker Malcolm Marx burst over to score a try, and flyhalf Jako van der Walt added the extras and a penalty.
KZN made it 10-8 before the break, thanks to the individual brilliance of fullback Jesse Kriel. The Maritzburg College speedster broke the Lions’ defence, then beat three covering defenders to collect his chip ahead with one hand to score. This will be remembered as the try of the tournament.
However, it was a frustrating second half for the day one heroes. KZN created more try-scoring opportunities, but failed to finish them because of the Lions’ firm defence and elementary errors at the set-pieces. Goal kicking also cost them as Anderson missed his three next attempts, while scrumhalf Cameron Wright pushed a long-range effort.
The Lions capitalised on this and sealed the win when tighthead prop Clinton Theron crashed over under the poles. The victors will now feature in their second consecutive unofficial final.
KZN – 15 Jesse Kriel (Maritzburg College), 14 Bruce Arnott (Michaelhouse), 13 Michael Mvelase (Michaelhouse), 12 Sandile Kubheka (Kearsney), 11 Corne Vermaak (Glenwood), 10 Rob Anderson (Michaelhouse), 9 Cameron Wright (Hilton), 8 Josh Moon (Michaelhouse), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez (Kearsney), 6 Carel Swart (Glenwood), 5 Daniel du Preez (Kearsney), 4 Justin Moberly (Michaelhouse), 3 Mvevo Khumalo (Maritzburg College), 2 Vuyo Khatide (Maritzburg College), 1 Pat Sikhosana (Port Shepstone).
Subs: 16 Steven Hardman (Michaelhouse), 17 Mzizi Zondi (Westville), 18 Sihle Nqxabi (Glenwood), 19 Michael van Aardt (Glenwood), 20 Mondli Nkosi (George Campbell), 21 Nkululeko Marwana (Glenwood), 22 Mthokozisi Makhabela (Glenwood).
Golden Lions – 15 Erwin Harris (Florida), 14 Surprise Mayekiso (KES), 13 Koch Marx (Alberton), 12 Innocent Radebe (St Stithians), 11 Allistar Mcquire (KES), 10 Jako van der Walt (Monument), 9 Bradley Janse van Rensburg (KES), 8 Revo Mabunda (Parktown Boys’), 7 Chris Massyn (Monument, c), 6 Ruan Mcdonald (Monument), 5 Victor Sekete (Monument), 4 Stefan Vermeulen (Queens), 3 Clinton theron (Florida), 2 Malcom Marx (KES), 1 Dylon Smith (KES).
Subs: 16 Emmanual Morowane (Jeppe), 17 Frans van Wyk (Monument), 18 Cyle Brink (KES), 19 Thapelo Rapelwane (St John’s), 20 Eric Botes (Florida), 21 Wanele maholwane (KES), 22 Barend Herbst (Monument).