DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls will contest the final of the SA Rugby Under-19 Provincial Championship at City Park next week after they progressed to the decider by winning the Coastal and Inland Sections respectively.
It was tight at the top though, with only one point separating the top four teams in the end.
On Saturday in Paarl, DHL Western Province had to fend off a determined Cell C Sharks outfit to win their decider 20-19.
DHL Western Province took a 13-3 lead into the half-time break, with scrumhalf William Rose scoring the only try of the first half and flyhalf Juan Mostert kicking the conversion and two penalties.
The Cell C Sharks took control of the second half though and three more penalty goals in the third quarter saw them claw their way back to a one-point deficit with the clock winding down.
DHL WP’s second try, by flank Matthew Cordy, put a bit of daylight between the teams, but the KwaZulu-Natalians refused to give up and a converted try by Max Montilla restored scores to a one-point game.
That is how it stayed though, and DHL WP could celebrate going through the Coastal Section unbeaten, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls topped their pool despite drawing 27-27 with the Xerox Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park on Friday. The men from Pretoria progressed because they scored more tries in their deciding match.
Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux said the talent on display in Johannesburg and Paarl was of a great standard and that they have identified a number of new players with an eye on the SA Under-20 squad for 2020.
“I think this tournament was a massive success and the quality on rugby displayed by these youngsters was of a very high standard,” said Roux.
“From a SA Rugby perspective, this tournament is very important and I think the new format made it even more exciting.
“We’ve just realised once again that there is a lot of wonderful talent out there – many of these players never got opportunities to play in the Youth Weeks – and they were afforded to chance to show what they can do at this tournament.
“Many players put up their hands, and it was massively encouraging to see a bunch of players from the so-called smaller unions take their opportunities, while it’s also very important for these players to be exposed to rugby at a higher level.
“There were a number of players who didn’t feature in the SA Schools team last year who put up their hands, while a handful of this year’s Junior Springboks were not in action, which gave other players opportunities.
“Our hosts, the Golden Lions and Paarl Gimnasium, deserve credit for hosting the tournament this year and it was very special for many of the players in the Inland Section to play at an iconic stadium such as Emirates Airline Park – many thanks to them.”