Juniors aim to show the seniors how it’s done
WESTERN PROVINCE’S juniors have shown up their seniors this season. The Craven Week and Academy teams went unbeaten at the national tournaments as did the Under-13s.
Now, it’s the turn of the U19s and U21s to win some silverware. They will be in action against the Golden Lions at Free State Stadium today, kicking off at 11am and 1pm respectively.
WP U21 coach Jerome Paarwater is confident his charges can get the job done against a Lions side who edged them 26-24 earlier this season. “It’s a game we should never have lost; we were the dominant side throughout and would have come out on top had our goal-kickers not fluffed their lines,” he said.
WP had opened their campaign with a 29-all draw away to the Blue Bulls and then won the next one at a canter, before coming unstuck against the Lions.
They then smashed the Sharks and hammered the EP Kings before a scare at home against the winless Leopards. Province scored a penalty to break the deadlock and secure a 34-31 victory.
It enabled them to top the seven- team standings and secure a home semi- final against the Cheetahs, who they beat 26-23 last weekend.
“We’ll get the job done if the lads play to their full potential,” said Paarwater, who won the title in 2007. “At times we’ve played some brilliant rugby… but every now and again we haven’t made the most of our opportunities due to lapses in concentration and iffy decision-making.”
Province have made one change to the run-on XV from last week, with Jaco Willemse starting in the second row.
Meanwhile, the U19s, who were champions in 2014, have a great chance of more success.
They, too, ended top of the log before the knockout rounds but with an impressive record of 10 wins from 12, seven of them on the trot before losing 43-36 to the Lions. WP won their first engagement 23-18. Western Province U21s: 15 Grant Hermanus, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Eduan Keyter, 12 Ryan Oosthuizen, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Jacques Vermaulen, 6 Luke Stringer (captain), 5 Eduard Zandberg, 4 Jaco Willemse, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Percy Mngadi, 1 Kyle Whyte. Bench: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Nyasha Tarusenga, 19 Christo van der Merwe, 20 Herschel Jantjies, 21 Dennis Cox, 22 Leolin Zas. Western Province U19s: 15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Nico Leonard, 13 David Brits, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Ryan Muller, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jondre Williams, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Zain Davids, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Matt Wiseman, 1 Ricky Nwagbara. Bench: 16 Shane Farmer, 17 Roux Swart, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Joa Swart, 20 Johan Visser, 21 Brandon Salomo, 22 Adriaan van der Bank, 23 Troy Payne.
Province took a 50-30 pasting at home against the Bulls in their final league fixture, but picked up a bonus point to secure top spot on the standings. They then beat the Cheetahs 30-15 to book their place in today’s final.
“We have to be at our best to take down the Lions. Our two previous meetings have been close affairs and a repeat is on the cards,” said U19s coach Nazeem Adams. “I’m confident we can deliver a title-winning performance. Our form this season has been out of the topdrawer.
“And I believe we haven’t reached our peak yet. What better way to do so than in the game that counts. We’ve got the pack and the backs, it’s now a case of staying concentrated and making the most of the chances that come our way.”
Junior Springbok Zain Davids starts at openside flank for WP at the expense of Nama Xaba.