When carnivores are herbivores – the Golden Lions are dark horses for Craven Week 2019

The Golden Lions u18A team are the favourites to beat the Bulls in a warm-up match on Tuesday 28 May 2019 at HS Monument. It’s early days but if they post the right sort of result in that clash, the buzz around the team is almost certain to gain traction. During the last two Craven Week’s, the Lions were easily the best performing team against usual pace-setters Western Province. Both the 2017 and 2018 games were high intensity affairs, where spectators got to see defences having a big say – something that’s becoming more and more uncommon at the leaky D one point per minute national under-18 tournament. To have any chance of seeing more of the same Lions / WP in 2019, the Lions have to make it to the Craven Week final.  The odds are not likely to change this year as far as rating Province is concerned. Their Craven Week team is still a W-I-P but whoever they settle on, that combination looks virtually set to put out the team to beat. They are on the other side of the draw to the Lions and once again conveniently have the extra day’s rest due to playing games on Monday and Wednesday (Lions play on Tuesday and Thursday). As for the Lions, they won’t have it easy at the youth week to be held in Bloemfontein. In order to progress they have to overcome a good Western Province B first up. If they can negotiate that high hurdle, then either a rematch against the Bulls or a Thursday semi-final versus the normally undercooked coming into Craven Week Border team, who would have got to that match-up via an upset of sorts over the Pretorians on Tuesday.

The Lions under-18 backline are starting to gel and they look like they could be the bees knees!

19 Comments

  1. Pleased to see Connor van Buuren from KES in the A team. Watched him in 3 matches this year playing at #7 and he’s really good. Good hands, excellent work rate and gets stuck in.

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  2. Thanks Beet. Players who stood out for me during the recent Valke warm-up game were #15, #14, #7 and #8. Those four have a future in the game. The goal kicking by both Raubenheimer and Botes was on point. I still think the very highly regarded gr 11 Tyler Skudder (like his brother Alex who at only 19 is playing for WITS 1XV this weekend) is a top notch open-sider but very green to the #2 position. He earns his start with excellent general play. I actually enjoyed the Monnas #2 who all things being equal (and we know its not) could have fancied his chances on the A-team bench. The St. John’s lock Groves is tall and very good and I thought he may get the nod, but he still has time to show his worth against the Blue Bulls. Having said that, the 2 locks picked were both very good. Look into the future and you may find Connor van Buuren on the side of the scrum playing pro ruggas. HMK utility forward Ruan Nortje could also fancy his chances (perhaps on the bench). He is big and in your face and very very fast. This team looked good, but the Blue Bulls will be a real test because quite frankly the Valke were no match for them whatsoever. I must add I am gobsmacked that HMK winger Christiaan Bezuidenhout is not in the mix and I think the omission of HMK Divan Esterhuizen is an early oversight on the part of the selectors but that’s how the cookie crumbles and I wish them well.

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  3. @Quagga: Yeah I have watched the 13, 14 and 15 standout on the field. Really potent players. The #22 isn’t shabby either. A bit of a worry is no specialist backup at 9. I know the Lions won a CW in 2017 without a proper second choice 9 but it’s a gamble. I’m pleased Botes is in the mix. Good player. I was worried he might be falling out of CW contention.

    Backrow looks glam too. u17 #6 was phenomenal vs Glenwood. I thought he would be in a close race with Skudder for that 6 jersey. Skudder has been class in that position. #7 when he wants to jol he is excellent. Not sure I have seen the best of #8 yet in 2019. If he peaks at CW like he did last year, he is virtually unstoppable.

    I’m not sure where the injured Monnas hooker Beukes or their fullback Luan vd Walt would figure into selection plans if they were fit but both very good prospects for 2020.

    Pity there isn’t a place for Christiaan Bezuidenhout. He really is a make something out of nothing type wing.

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  4. I hope that Tiaan Botes from Helpmekaar can crack the starting lineup for Craven week. He is a quality 10.

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  5. @The Don: I’m also looking forward to seeing the Bulls teams with the HPC players included.

    Is it just me or do the Bulls seem like they are less organised this year when compared to seasons gone by?

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  6. @beet: I think it’s the old way vs the new way.The old establishment vs the new one.The Pres promised some transparency in the selection process.

    To many players was excluded in the past from a fair chance.If read between the lines,the stalling of announcement can maybe become a good thing.

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  7. @Grizzly: Does that mean they might be taking this weekend’s matches into account? Nice battle in the capital. Might help to clear up a few undecided choices for positions.

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  8. @beet: Please inform when the Bulls was organised, I mean the last time. Think you will have to go way back.

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  9. @Chronicle: :mrgreen: It didn’t feel like it was that long that one could go onto the Bulls schools FB page and see their warm-up teams. Also in past years I’m sure the kids who were in the HP squad knew that they were in the HP squad because someone had taken the time to communicate this to them.

    But I’m just touching on the things I’m aware of. Chances are better/good/excellent that you have a more in-depth understanding of how the Bulls have operated in the recent past in relation to this year.

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  10. You guys must please give feedback after the games. FS playing here in Welkom tomorrow, albeit against Griekwa Academy team we should be able to see if they function as a unit with the “new” wings. If they do, I really think they could be a huge contender at CW this week. But as per all above posts, Lions have been superb last few years. Will let you guys now tomorrow. Have a great evening chaps.

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  11. @beet: It’s definitely been weird. Not all the players played all the rounds and some players haven’t played a round of trials at all but they’ll probably still be selected due to them being in the HP squad. I think the Bulls are relying a lot on scouts being at the games.

    For example my brother was in the HP squad and only played the Tuesday round of trials. They’ve just been monitoring him via SSL streams etc.

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  12. @beet: Actually just moving around a lot and in touch with boys and parents.
    I was judging on past performances.

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