Blue Bulls crowned SA Rugby U21 champions
Cape Town - The Blue Bulls overturned a 17-point deficit in a fine second half display against Western Province at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday to clinch the SA Rugby U21 Championship title.
The victory was the cherry on top for the team following an impressive season in which they suffered only two defeats, allowing them to top the standings.
The opening exchanges of the first half was tightly fought with both teams running hard on attack and backing it up with solid defence, which resulted in both teams kicking penalty goals to get on the scoreboard.
The Blue Bulls opened up the scoring with Theo Boshoff (flyhalf) kicking the first three-pointer in the third minute, and Western Province retaliated with two of their own in the next 20 minutes compliments of Junior Springbok flyhalf David Coetzer - this despite losing Vusile Dlepu (scrumhalf) to a yellow card in the 15th minute for a high tackle.
The Capetonians determined efforts to apply pressure on their Pretoria rivals finally paid off in the 30th minute as Shaine Orderson (flank) forced his way over the tryline from a pick-and-go after some strong forward play.
They backed this up with their second try four minutes later with Dlepu picking up the ball from the base of the ruck and showing a dummy pass before weaving his way through the defence to the tryline, which handed them an encouraging 20-3 half-time lead.
The Blue Bulls fought back with intent in the second half with Stephan Smit (flank) scoring their first try of the match after forcing his way over the tryline in the corner, and the successful conversion by Boshoff and a subsequent penalty goal allowed them to reduce their deficit to only seven points.
Western Province received their second yellow card soon after with prop Sazi Sandi receiving his marching orders following an infringement at a maul, and the opposition took advantage of this with Gershwin Mouton (wing) scoring after receiving a smart pass out wide, and the successful conversion levelled the scores at 20-20.
They built on this minutes later with Boshoff kicking his third penalty goal, which pushed the Blue Bulls ahead on the scoreboard for the first time in the match.
The Pretoria side continued to make their presence felt as Carl Els (replacement forward) touched down after a gathering a sharp pass in space, and Boshoff added a drop goal to his successful conversion to push them 33-20 ahead.
Western Province fought until the last minute with Gift Dlamini (flank) dashing to the tryline after the hooter had sounded, but it was too little too late, as they went down 33-27.
Tries: Stephan Smit, Gershwin Mouton, Carl Els
Conversions: Theo Boshoff (3)
Penalty goals: Boshoff (3)
Drop goal: Boshoff
Tries: Shaine Orderson, Vusile Dlepu, Gift Dlamini
Conversions: David Coetzer (3)
Penalty goals: Coetzer (2)