DHL WP U21: Road to the Final

PUBLISHED: October 10, 2023

DHL Western Province U21 will be looking to make it a perfect unbeaten season when they face Lions U21 in the SA Rugby U21 Cup Final at City Park on Saturday.

Captain Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s team have swept all before them this season, to set up a home final which kicks off at 13h00 on Saturday at City Park.

Faced with a tough draw of just two home matches out of five league fixtures at the start of the season, DHL Western Province U21 built momentum and grew in confidence with each performance.

We take a look at each of their matches and how they made it through all six of their matches this season without losing.

DHL WP U21 20-17 Hollywoodbets Sharks U21

Their first challenge was also the closest match of the campaign as they were forced to come from behind to win the coastal clash at City Park.

A strong breeze made goal-kicking very tough, so it was four unconverted tries that saw them get over the line and start the season with a win.

Tries from wings Duran Koevort and Tom Nel saw them go into half-time deadlocked at 10-10. The Durban side scored first in the second half to take a seven-point lead, but two late tries saw the home team snatch a dramatic win.

Vodacom Bulls U21 27-34 DHL WP U21

After that tough start, the next challenge was a trip to Pretoria to face the defending champions.

DHL WP U21 made a strong start on the Loftus Versfeld B field, with centre Damian Markus, flank Paul de Villiers and No.8 Louw Nel all scoring in the first half.

One more try in the second half was enough to take the bonus point win home with them and a full 10 points from their first two games.

DHL WP U21 64-14 Lions U21

For the next match they were back on home turf for what would be their last game at City Park in the league phase of the season.

It was the only two unbeaten sides in the competition up against each other, but there was only one winner on the day as DHL WP U21 put on an exhibition, running in 10 tries in the wind to claim a comfortable victory.

Three in the first half and an incredible seven after half-time saw DHL WP U21 show their class and stake their claim as a force to be reckoned with.

Toyota Cheetahs U21 6-64 DHL WP U21

As if to underline their dominance, they backed that up with another 10-try display. This time on the road in Bloemfontein, where they also managed to keep the Toyota Cheetahs U21 from scoring a try.

At this point the continuity in selection in the first three games was really starting to pay off, as the settled combinations made the Free State side pay for any inaccuracies.

This left them with clear daylight at the top of the standings heading onto the final league fixture of the season in Potchefstroom the following week.

Leopards U21 28-59 DHL WP U21

Needing just a single log point to secure top spot on the standings heading into the play-offs, there were a number of changes the the team.

Players who had featured regularly off the replacements bench all season were given an opportunity to get some gametime under their belts and ensure that they would be ready, should they be called on in the knock-out stages.

These players responded well to the challenge and it was another big win on the road to take some real momentum into the play-offs.

That set up a semifinal clash with the defending champions at City Park.

DHL WP U21 34-7 Vodacom Bulls U21

The home side were playing with a strong wind in the first half and scored the only try before half-time, with centre Damian Markus dotting down and Feinberg-Mngomezulu adding a penalty to make it 10-0 at the break.

Vodacom Bulls U21 scored first in the second half, but those were to be their only points of the match in the end.

Depite playing into the wind in the second half and being down to 14 when lock Connor Evans was shown a yellow card, DHL WP U21 showed their class to score four tries after half-time and claim what was a comfortable win in the end.

That set up a home final and a chance at the perfect season at City Park this weekend.

It has been a remarkable campaign from Head Coach Johno van der Walt’s side and they can make it one to remember when they run out to face Lions U21 in the showpiece match on Saturday.