The Blue Bulls turned the tide by 48-33 against the Golden Lions in the final of the SA Rugby u21 Championship at Ellispark in Johannesburg to be crowned champions. The Lions started the final as the favourites after they defeated the Bulls by 26-17 in their league match earlier in the season.
It was an exciting match of rugby that produced no less than 81 points. The home side led 19-17 at the break and a try by winger Prince Nkabinde converted by Luke Rossouw (flyhalf) saw the Lions extend their lead to 26-17.
The Bulls secured the victory by scoring twice in the last four minutes of the final through Dawid Kellerman (replacement centre) and Jan-Hendrik Wessels (prop). Kellerman scored after snatching a loose ball after a bone-crunching tackle by Stravino Jacobs (winger) on a Lions players. Jacobs himself completed a brace of tries in the victory.
The Bulls defence was not as solid as their coach Hayden Groepes would've liked for a final, but it was the effort by blindside flanker, Hendri du Toit, who turned the tide on the Lions. Dut Toit outperformed his highly-rated opponent, Mark Snyman, at the breakdown and secured more than a couple of vital turnovers.
Jacobs' wing partner, Sebastiaan Jobb, also had a good game as he put his body on the line securing a couple of turnovers himself as well as putting hooker, Janco Uys, away for an important score. The power of the Bulls' replacement props, Jan-Hendrik Wessels and Nolan Pienaar, also ensured that they had more than enough left in the tank to put the Lions away.
Bulls' captain, Kudzwai Dube (prop), will be drinking out of the u21-trophy for the second year in a row as his team defended their title. Jobb, Keagan Johannes (replacement scrumhalf), and Richard Kriel (fullback) were all part of the Bulls-side that was crowned champions of the u21 Championship in Bloemfontein last year.
It was also the second year on the trot that Paul Mente officiated the final of the competition.
PHOTO: Frans Lombard/Lions Rugby co.
Blue Bulls 48 (17) - Tries: Stravino Jacobs (2), Bernard van der Linde, Keagan Johannes, Janco Uys, Dawid Kellerman, Jan-Hendrik Wessels. Conversions: David Coetzer (3), Richard Kriel (2). Penalty: Kriel. Golden Lions 33 (19) - Tries: Cal Smid, Sibusiso Sangweni, Francke Horn, Prince Nkabinde, Darnell Osowagu. Conversions: Luke Rossouw (4).
The teams were:
Blue Bulls: 15 Richard Kriel (Grey College), 14 Stravino Jacobs (Paarl Gimnasium), 13 Diego Appollis (Garsfontein), 12 Jay-Cee Nel (Oakdale Landbou), 11 Sebastiaan Jobb (Duineveld), 10 David Coetzer (Selborne College), 9 Bernard van der Linde (Menlopark), 8 Divan Venter (Menlopark), 7 Keenan Opperman (Montagu), 6 Hendri du Toit (Nico Malan), 5 Janko Swanepoel (Stellenberg), 4 Jordan van Dyk (Garsfontein), 3 Eduan Swart (Oos-Moot), 2 Janco Uys (Affies), 1 Kudzwai Dube (Muir College - captain). Replacements: 16 Keano Hendricks (Oakdale Landbou), 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Grey College), 18 Nolan Pienaar (Menlopark), 19 Uzile Tele (Hudson Park), 20 WJ Steenkamp (Grey College), 21 Keagan Johannes (Garsfontein), 22 Ruben Beytell (EG Jansen), 23 Dawid Kellerman (Paarl Gimnasium).
Golden Lions: 15 Shaun Baxter (HTS Drostdy), 14 Prince Nkabinde (Hoogenhout), 13 James Mollentze (Outeniqua), 12 Luke Rossouw (Monument), 11 Ngia Selengbe (King Edward VII), 10 Marc Morrison (King Edward VII), 9 Runaldo Pedro (Grey High School), 8 Francke Horn (Paarl Boys' High - captain), 7 Sibusiso Sangweni (Kearsney College), 6 Mark Snyman (Helpmekaar), 5 Cal Smid (Rondebosch Boys' High), 4 Emmanuel Tshituka (Northcliff), 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (St Stithians College), 2 Dameon Venter (Helpmekaar), 1 Nkosikhona Masuku (Parktown Boys' High). Replacements: 16 Darnell Osowagu (Parktown Boys' High), 17 Banele Mthenjane (Nelspruit), 18 Ebot Buma (Fourways High), 19 Junior White (Jeppe High School for Boys'), 20 Mandisi Mthinyane (Durban High School), 21 Hlumelo Ndudula (Hudson Park), 22 Jordan Hendrikse (Glenwood), 23 Boitumelo Tsatsane (Jeppe High School for Boys').
Referee: Paul Mente.