The DHL Western Province Under-21s are the 2015 champions of South Africa, after convincingly beating the Free State Cheetahs’ U21s by 52-17 in the final of the Absa Provincial Under-21 Competition in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Having led by 20-10 at half-time, Robbie Fleck’s all-conquering side – who finished on top of the log this season, losing just once in 14 games – ran in four brilliant second-half tries to secure Province’s third title in this age-group in the past six seasons.
Flyhalf Brandon Thomson – the official Absa Man of the Match – scored one of his team’s six tries, also adding four conversions and four penalty goals for a match-haul of 25 points.
Fullback Grant Hermanus opened his team’s account in the tenth minute, scoring under the uprights, with outside centre EW Viljoen also getting over in the first half.
Thomson, lock David Ribbans, left-wing Leolin Zas and replacement James Verity-Amm all crossed in the second half to notch up a half-century of points in the process.
New head coach Robbie Fleck deserves plenty of credit for this results – in just his first year in charge – with forwards coach Hanyani Shimange and defence coach Norman Laker also contributing, along with the medical staff, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes throughout.
It was a tough and long season for the DHL WP U21s, who had a huge setback during the season when hooker Daniel Mills du Plessis suffered a cardiac arrest on the field of play, whilst they also welcomed back lock JD Schickerling from a career- and life-threatening neck injury.
Schickerling, who played for the SA U20 team last year, is a lock with great promise and he was the vice-captain in today’s match, with centre EW Viljoen skippering the team on the day (as he did in the semifinals).
For DHL Western Province Under-21:
Tries: Hermanus, Viljoen, Thomson, Ribbans, Zas, Verity-Amm
Cons: Thomson 4, Du Plessis
Pens: Thomson 4
For Free State Cheetahs Under-21:
Tries: Nche, Venter
Cons: Vosloo, Swart
DHL Western Province Under-21: 15 Grant Hermanus, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 EW Viljoen (captain), 12 Jarryd Sage, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 JD Schickerling (vice-captain), 4 David Ribbans, 3 Kyle Whyte, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Wesley Adonis.
Replacements: 16 Martin Wipplinger, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Kobus van Dyk, 19 Christo van der Merwe, 20 SP Ferreira, 21 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 22 James Verity-Amm.
Free State Cheetahs Under-21: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Stephen Janse van Rensburg (captain), 11 Arrie Vosloo, 10 Andre Swart, 9 Louis Venter, 8 Steven Meiring, 7 Jasper Wiese, 6 Jean-Claude Fourie, 5 Justin Basson (vice-captain), 4 Boela Venter, 3 Gunter Janse van Vuuren, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Johan Kotze, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Ntokozo Vidima, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Lorenzo Gordon, 22 Gerrie Labuschagne.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Sindile Ngcese Sindile
TMO: Johan Greeff