Defending U19 champs in strong start to new season
July 10, 2017
In the opening round of the SA Rugby Under-19 Provincial Championship played on Saturday, the defending champions, the Xerox Golden Lions, flexed their muscles and showed ominous form early in the season.

They travelled down to Port Elizabeth, where they scored 11 tries in a very convincing 67-15 win over the 2015 champions, Eastern Province.

In fact all three travelling sides returned victorious, with the Toyota Free State beating the Leopards 36-24 in Potchefstroom, while DHL Western Province edged the Vodacom Blue Bulls 17-15 in Pretoria.

The Cell C Sharks had a bye.

It was a tight affair in Potchefstroom, with the sides evenly matched. The Free Staters had a 19-12 lead at the break and in the end scored five tries to four. Free State's Lubabelo Dobela converted all four and slotted a penalty and helped to build the scoreboard pressure.

The Leopards did manage a bonus point with four tries, including one by captain Bernu Engelbrecht, but could only converted two of them.

In Pretoria, the Vodacom Blue Bulls finished strongly, but were edged 17-15 by the DHL Western Province at Loftus Versfeld. This was the opening match of the SA Rugby Under-19 Provincial Championships for both teams.

DHL Western Province U19 opened the scoring with a try from inside centre Henlo Marais which was converted by flyhalf Francke Botha.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls U19 responded with a penalty, but the seven-point margin was restored when Botha landed a penalty of his own to give his side a 10-3 advantage at half-time. They extended that lead to 17-3 just after half-time as flank Charl Serdyn got over for a try which was converted by Botha.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls came storming back as they sought a comeback victory and managed to score two tries via Xander Kruger and Jerome Bossr, but only one was converted, which gave DHL Western Province U19 a slender victory away from home.

The results and scorers in the SA Rugby Under-19 Championships were:

Leopards 24 (12), Toyota Free State 36 (19)

Leopards - Tries: Johan Odendaal, Bernu Engelbrecht, Janlo Steenkamp, Stefanus Mare. Conversions: Steenkamp (2).
Toyota Free State - Tries: Bheki Qaba, Henk Pretorius, Athi Halom, Duncan van Vuuren, Tonny Mahlangu. Conversions: Lubabalo Dobela (4). Penalty: Dobela.

Vodacom Blue Bulls 15 (3), DHL Western Province 17 (10)

Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Xander Kruger, Jerome Bossr. Conversion: Bossr. Penalty: Bossr.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Schalk Erasmus, Francke Botha. Conversions: Botha (2). Penalty: Botha

Eastern Province 15 (3), Xerox Golden Lions 67 (22)

Eastern Province 15 - Tries: Vaughen Isaacs, James Cheia. Conversion: Isaacs. Drop Goal: Chadwin November
Xerox Golden Lions - Tries: Arno Van Wyk, Cohen Kiewit, MJ Pelser, Ricardo Duarttee, Louritz van der Schyff, Manuel Ras, Tatendaishe Mujawo (2), Tyrone Green, Seun Maduna, Tiaan van der Merwe. Conversions: Keegan Marengo (4), Austin Davids (2)

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