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Week 1 :Defending champs EP u19 got their 2016 campaign off to the best possible start with a bonus point home win against their Sharks counterparts who collected the wooden spoon last year. For EP their backrow skippered by Michaelhouse Old Boy Milo Sadiki was instrumental and so too was their exciting back three made up of Victor Foster (Michaelhouse), Courtney Winnaar (Dale) and Yaw Penxe (Queen’s) who was especially good. Aside from fielding a brand new team, which is customary in under-19 age group rugby, Eastern Province are under the guidance of two brand new coaches as well: up and coming full-timer Phiwe Nomlomo who previously assisted at Selborne and Louis Gerber, the current head coach of Framesby who in recent successive seasons guided EP’s Craven Week team to an unofficial title and a runner-up spot.
In Potchefstroom, a very strong Golden Lions u19 laid down a marker with an emphatic 75-8 victory over a usually competitive Leopard outfit. The Lions u19s have flattered to deceive in recent seasons. so will be looking to sustain their challenge this time around. The Blue Bulls who generally contract a big group of well-known school players and perform well at this level, had to work hard to edge out Free State, a team with a much smaller budget but who often land very useful junior players. That game ended 18-16 to the home team.
WEEK 2 : WP containing no fewer than 4 KZN Craven Week players including captain Nama Zama got their 2016 campaign off to a flying start. Just on paper alone Free State are no pushovers and kept Province in check at 13-15 going into the break. At the 65 minute marker the score was 29-18 in favour of the Cape visitors, who then finished in impressive style scoring three tries in the last 5-minutes to bring up their half ton. 50-18 is how it ended. The Province boys looked the fitter of the two teams and enjoyed the greater deal of ball possession for the last 20-or-so minutes. The team is yet to welcome back Baby Boks Zain Davids, Ruben de Villiers, Carlu Sadie, Ernst van Rhyn and Cobus Wiese to their pack.
In Durban, head coach Paul Anthony doubled his number of wins since taking charge of the Sharks u19’s at the start of last season, thanks to a second successive win against the Leopards, the only opponents he has been able to beat. One of the heroes for the Sharks was home-grown hooker Sam Swanepoel, a Maritzburg College product who was somewhat surprisingly overlooked for a KZN youth week representative team in 2015. Just like in PE a week ago, the Sharks pack looked up to the task to help lay the platform for a 38-16 bonus point win.
The Lions suffered an agonising last minute try defeat to the Bulls via Hentie Cilliers scrummy Jason Olivier. Several players stood out for the Lions including Len Massyn, Bader Pretorius, Adre Smith and versatile Stean Pienaar, while Johan Grobelaar, Hendre Stassen and Louwtjie Steenkamp were in top form for the visiting Bulls.