The Enrista Blue Bulls Craven Week side won two of their three matches at the annual Coca-Cola Craven Week, held at the HTS Middelburg fields in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
The Pretoria side lost their opening match 26-25 to Eastern Province, with a last minute score by the coastal side, who went on to be crowned best team at the Week.
The Blue Bulls then went one to beat the Golden Lions 21-10 and on the final day of play, outgunned KZN 36-15.
A wrap of the matches follows:
Blue Bulls 25 (16) Eastern Province 26 (6)
Eastern Province secured a gripping last-minute victory against the Blue Bulls in what was a titanic clash after staging a dramatic comeback from 16-6 down in the first half. Both teams threw everything at each other with their powerful packs and hard-running backs. Such was the closeness of the first half the Blue Bulls managed to cross the tryline in the 30th minute for the first try of the match, while the rest of the points were all scored compliments of penalties. The Blue Bulls slotted over three and Eastern Province two, which handed the Pretoria team a 16-6 lead.
Eastern Province, however, fought back in the second half as they ran in two well-worked tries, the last of which was in the final minute, to cancel out the extra three penalties by Blue Bulls flyhalf Tinus de Beer. This left the Port Elizabeth side trailing by one point before the conversion. Eastern Province fullback Curwin Bosch, however, slotted over the kick with ease to secure the 26-25 victory.
Blue Bulls – Try: Ettiene Matthys. Conversion: Tinus de Beer. Penalties: Tinus de Beer (6).
Eastern Province – Tries: Athi Mayinje, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Curwin Bosch (4).
Blue Bulls 21 (21) Golden Lions 10 (3)
The clash between the Blue Bulls and Golden Lions was tense as both teams tried hard to dominate physically with their powerful forwards. Both teams created chances on attack as they stretched the defence across the field, but the Blue Bulls’ smart game plan to kick for territory and try to force the Lions into making mistakes combined with their skilful passing handed them an edge. This paid off for the Pretoria side as they managed to cross the Lions’ tryline three times in the first half for a 21-3 half time lead.
The Golden Lions, however, forced their way back into the match with their strong forwards after the break by retaining possession on attack and camping in the Blue Bulls’ half. This set them up for a try from a rolling maul shortly after half time. They created several more opportunities on attack through their impressive forward play and fantastic line breaks and managed to come within inches of scoring. But the solid Blue Bulls’ defence denied them from dotting down the ball, which meant they had to settle for a 21-10 defeat.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Juandre Michau, Ruan de Beer, Stedman Gans. Conversions: Ruan de Beer, Tinus de Beer (2).
Golden Lions – Try: Constant Beckerling. Conversion: Ralton October. Penalty: Wikus Van Biljon.
KwaZulu-Natal 15 (10) Blue Bulls 36 (15)
KwaZulu-Natal and the Blue Bulls were closely matched in the first half of their clash as they both put their bodies on the line to get on the front foot. For the first 20 minutes both teams opted for penalties in an attempt to force their way onto the scoreboard. But the Blue Bulls finally broke through in the 25th minute for the first of their two first-half tries, while the Sharks also earned one, handing the Pretoria side a 15-10 lead.
KwaZulu-Natal, however, fought hard early in the second half to take the lead on the scoreboard and managed to secure their second try five minutes into the half. They came close to the tryline again on several occasions, but the resilient Blue Bulls defence denied them from touching down the ball. In stark contrast the Blue Bulls made a few fantastic line breaks and supported this with a strong showing by their forwards, which paid off with three back-to-back tries and a convincing 36-15 victory.
KwaZulu-Natal – Tries: Jaco Coetzee, James Hall. Conversion: Curtis Jonas. Penalty: Tristan Tedder.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Aston Fortuin, Eduan Keyter, Embrose Papier, Tinus de Beer (2). Conversions: Tinus de Beer (4). Penalty: Tinus de Beer.