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Craven Week final day – Pride still at stake


Written by beet bailey (beet)

Posted in :Original Content, School Rugby, Sharks on 16 Jul 2011 at 09:09
Tagged with :

If you are an outsider, unfamiliar with the process, you are forgiven for believing that Craven Week is a thing of the past for all but the Golden Lions and the Free State, who have been chosen to play in the final match of the tournament.

Describing the nine lead-up games to the final as mere formalities could not be further from the truth. Some highly motivated teams will be looking to build on their records while other will be hoping to set the record straight and all including the finalists will be desperate to end the week on a high note.

There is also the added incentive of playing for a place in the SA Schools team. Although one would reasonably expect the selectors to have agreed on a shortlist of players by this stage, nothing is set in stone. Just like match days 1 through 4, Saturday represents an opportunity for a youngster to either play himself into contention with a sublime performance or possibly even suffer a loss of form that results in his name being scratched out and replaced by another.

Sadly for Kwazulu Natal, poor outcomes in the set-piece has in all likelihood put paid to the hopes of any forward’s chances of being on the SA Schools roll call today. In addition to this, star player Stefan Ungerer is struggling to overcome an ankle injury sustained in June. This has shaken his confidence level and kept him from performing at his peak.

Fortunately several other backs remain in contention for higher honours. None more so than strong try-scoring outside centre, Tyler Fisher who has added 2 Craven Week power tries to the 17 tries he had already scored during the regular schools season. Even if Fisher does not get the nod to be part of today’s 22-man squad, chances must be good that he will follow in the footsteps of 2010 KZN under 18 centre Patrick Howard and receive a call-up to the SA Under 18 High Performance squad, a route that also offers a player the opportunity to represent his country at this age-group level.

Other impressive performers who are still in with a shout are fullback Mbembe Payi, whose wonder footwork has wrong-footed many wannabe first-time tacklers over the course of his under 18 rugby career, big flyhalf Robert du Preez Jnr, with his ability to hold off defenders and create attacking opportunities and in-form young leftwing Siyabonga Tom, who has stood out as a good all-round player while many of his rivals in the position have displayed questionable ability on defense.

Today Kwazulu Natal faces the Blue Bulls. Both sides have had to pick themselves up following agonising last minute defeats in their previous games. It will also be their second meeting in the space of three weeks. At Bondedag in Rustenburg, the baby Sharks were soundly beaten 36-3 by their Pretoria counterparts. That match was won up front where the powerful Bulls pack containing a number of SA Schools hopefuls and having a weight advantage of 10kg per man, completely dominated proceedings. Much of the same forward domination can be expected today. However if the strong-willed and fit KZN pack can withstand this pressure and provide their own line with anything that bears a resemblance to quality ball, we could see our team cause their second upset of the week.

Fixtures for Saturday 16 July

08.15: Valke vs Griffons

08.15: Eastern Province vs Boland

08.15: Leopards vs Border Country Districts

09.40: Zimbabwe vs Namibia

09.40: Limpopo vs Griquas

09.40: Pumas vs Western Province

11.05: Blue Bulls vs KwaZulu-Natal

11.05: Border vs South Western Districts

11.05: Griquas Country Districts vs Eastern Province Country Districts

13.00: “Final” – Free State vs Golden Lions

KwaZulu Natal Team: 15 Mbembe Payi (DHS), 14 Lwazi Sithole (Maritzburg College), 13 Tyler Fisher (Westville), 12 Dean Moolman (Glenwood), 11 Siyabonga Tom (Glenwood), 10 Robert du Preez (Kearsney), 9 Stefan Ungerer (Maritzburg College), 8 Carel Swart (Glenwood), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez (Kearsney), 6 Sibulele Nanto (George Campbell), 5 Ferdinand Horn (Glenwood), 4 Daniel du Preez (Kearsney), 3 Matthew Worral-Claire (Glenwood), 2 Jaques Taylor (Glenwood), 1 Niel Oelofse (Glenwood), 16 Cullen Collopy (Kearsney), 17 Sanele Pina (Glenwood), 18 Jens Klingenberg (Vryheid), 19 Jackson Buthelezi (Westville), 20 Brendan Cope (DHS), 21 Sandile Khubeka (Kearsney), 22 Nkululeko Marwana (Glenwood).



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