Blue Bulls are the best
There is not a shadow of doubt that the Blue Bulls are the best team at the 2012 Craven Week, not after their 47-0 beating of the Golden Lions in the final match of the 49th Craven Week, played in Port Elizabeth.
They looked good in the first half when they led 12-0, but there was no indication of their stellar performance to come in the second half when they scored 35 points.
It was not as if they overwhelmed the brave Golden Lions who stood up well in the forward encounters. It was just that the Blue Bulls outran them. Given half a chance, a little bit of surprise possession, and they were away. Any mistakes the Golden Lions made became points for the Blue Bulls. As the score mounted the Blue Bulls's confidence grew and the Golden Lions' confidence ebbed away, till they were well beaten and an excellent Craven Week sank at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The first half was even as the rain poured down. The first four playing days of the week had been excellent - excellent weather on an excellent playing surface. On Saturday the weather that had been soaking Cape Town reached Port Elizabeth, but it did not last the whole game. It stopped half way through the first half and did not rain in the second half and the sun actually broke through. Then the Blue Bulls had fun, especially their centres, Jurie Linde and Rohan Janse van Rensburg, and their energetic, eenterprising fullback Jaco Hayward. A lot of credit must go to their halves, Ryno Eksteen and Justin Phillips, who played intelligently and with sympathy, especially in the wet.
The Golden Lions were better than the Blue Bulls at the scrum and the line-out but the Blue Bulls cleaned up at the tackle where the speed, strength and skill of Thabo Mabuza was worth gold. The Blue Bulls tackled aggressively, driving the Lions back.
for their first try the Blue Bulls used a turnover on the right to go wide left where Rohan Janse van Rensburg, big and strong, surged over far out. From far out Eksteen converted. Four minutes later he goaled a penalty. 10-0 after 14 minutes.
The Golden Lions relied a lot on muscular pick-'n-drive with Stephan Vermeulen, the biggest of them all, in the van and came close to scoring when Koch Marx burst for the line. Clinton Theron was actually over but the TMO's advice was that he had been held up. From the subsequent five-metre scrum they bashed again till their hands failed them.
A kick by Justin Phillips nearly brought about a try by Marcus Kleinbooi but the bouncing ball had just clipped the touchline before Kleinbooi scooped it up. Then the Golden Lions had a chance when Barend Herbst kicked ahead but Phillips saved.
From the kick off the destruction of the Golden Lions started in serious. The Blue Bulls kicked off and their wing Marquit September, a recent recruit from Riversdale, caught the ball, beat an opponent and passed inside to Mabuza who raced ahead for the try in the left corner. That was in a matter of seconds into the second half. It was now 15-0.
Four minutes later Janse van Rensburg broke from a line-out and sent Linde in. 20-0 after 45 minutes.
The Blue Bulls were attacking again when their handling went awry, but Kleinbooi cleaned up, September made room and Janse van Rensburg scored his second. Eksteen converted from touch.
When a Golden Lions pass went astray, September and Linde dashed ahead and Hayward scored. 32-0 with 14 minutes to play.
Kleinbooi grubbered but the ball went straight to September who beat the cover-defence and scored. That made it 37-0 after 61 minutes.
Eksteen kicked a penalty and then again the Golden Lions kicked a try against themselves. This time Mabuza got the ball just behind his 10-metre line. He formed a tackle/ruck and the next thing George-Lee Erasmus was scampering down the left. He passed inside to big Steven Meiring who galloped the 40 metres to score a try at the posts. Eksteen's conversion ended the match.
It was a remarkable final match. For one thing 47 is the highest score and zero the lowest.
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Hayward, Linde, September, Janse van Rensburg 2, Mabuza, Meiring
Cons: Eksteen 3
Pens: Eksteen 2
Bulls: 15 Jaco Hayward, 14 Marcus Kleinbooi, 13 Jurie Linde, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Marquit September, 10 Ryno Eksteen, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Steven Meiring, 7 Hendrik Viljoen, 6 Thabo Mabuza, 5 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Arend Bannink, 2 Albrecht Steyn, 1 Pierre Schoeman (captain).
Replacements: 16 Vean Roodt, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Johannes Ras, 19 Arthur De Wee, 20 George-Lee Eramsus, 21 Chad McKay, 11 Caswell Khoza.
Golden Lions: 22 Barend Herbst, 14 Surprise Mayekiso, 13 Koch Marx, 21 Wanele Maholwana, 11 Alastair McQuire, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Bradley Janse van Rensburg, 5 Stephan Vermeulen, 7 Christiaan Massyn (captain), 6 Ruan Macdonald, 18 Cyle Brink, 4 Victor Sekekete, 3 Clinton Theron, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Emmanuel Morowane, 17 Frans van Wyk, 8 Rivoningo Mabunda, 19 Thapelo Rapelwana, 20 Eric Botes, 12 Innocent Radebe, 15 Erwin Harris.
Referee: Jaco Kotze
Assistant referees: Pieter de Villiers, Sindile Ngcese
Television match official: Hein Gericke
Final matches down the years:
1971: Western Province vs Griquas, 11-0
1972: Western Province vs Western Transvaal, 16-9
1973: Western Province vs Transvaal, 36-7
1974: Western Province vs South Western Districts, 22-12
1975: Eastern Province vs Natal, 46-13
1976: Boland vs Free State, 13-9
1977: Eastern Province vs Western Province, 19-17
1978: Western Province vs Free State, 12-3
1979: Northern Free State vs Free State, 9-6
1980: Free State vs Transvaal, 16-6
1981: Transvaal vs Western Province, 11-7
1982: South Eastern Transvaal vs Northern Free State, 25-7
1983: Free State vs South Eastern Transvaal, 13-9
1984: Transvaal vs Eastern Province, 3-0
1985: Free State vs Transvaal, 23-15
1986: South Eastern Transvaal vs Western Province, 19-12
1987: Natal vs Transvaal, 22-22
1988: Western Province vs Free State, 16-3
1989: Transvaal vs Eastern Province, 17-6
1990: Natal vs Northern Transvaal, 18-8
1991: Northern Transvaal vs Border, 10-9
1992: Western Province vs Free State, 22-15
1993: Northern Transvaal vs South Eastern Transvaal, 25-13
1994: Border vs Eastern Province, 13-13
1995: Free State vs Boland, 15-13
1996: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province, 24-12
1997: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province, 29-27
1998: Griqualand West vs Western Province, 32-21
1999: Western Province vs Eastern Province, 15-11
2000: Pumas vs Boland, 19-18
2001: South Western Districts vs Blue Bulls, 26-20
2002: Western Province vs Free State, 31-16
2003: Western Province vs Free State, 22-17
2004: Free State vs Western Province, 17-16
2005: Golden Lions vs Eastern Province, 38-15
2006: Blue Bulls vs Golden Lions, 35-20
2007: Free State vs Western Province, 52-3
2008: South Western Districts vs Free State, 31-25
2009: Western Province vs Free State, 19-17
2010: Free State vs Western Province, 42-21
2010: Free State vs Golden Lions, 28-17