The Free State continued their dominance in the Under-21 Championship at the weekend.
They registered their third successive victory, while the Leopards delivered a convincing display to win their first match of the season.
Scores and scorers!
Golden Lions 23-25 Free State
In an exciting round, Free State held onto a narrow 25-23 victory against the Golden Lions at Ellis Park, Western Province defeated the Blue Bulls 14-6 in Cape Town and the Leopards beat Border 26-17 in Potchefstroom.
The Free State and Golden Lions were involved in a tight tussle from the outset.
The Lions opened up the scoring in the second minute with scrumhalf Percy Williams crossing the tryline to take a 7-0 lead. But two penalties by Free State fullback Marco Mason and a drop-goal by flyhalf Noel Marx within nine minutes pushed the Cheetahs into the lead.
The Lions were then dealt a massive blow as prop Devon Martinus received a red card in the 22nd minute, which left them with 14 men for a substantial part of the match. But despite this they fought back with two penalties by Marais Schmidt, which was cancelled out before the break by the Free State's first try.
The Lions fought back in the second half with another early try, but the Cheetahs replied with one of their own five minutes later and a penalty by Mason.
Ill-discipline, however, cost them soon after as hooker Wickus Deysel and prop Philip Botha received yellow cards, which reduced the team to 13 men. A drop goal from Marx nine minutes from time, however, handed the Bloemfontein team a sufficient lead to cancel out a late try by the Lions, and with the conversion attempt proving unsuccessful, the Free State secured their third successive victory.
Tries: Davids, Williams, Lerm
Pens: Schmidt 2
Tries: Tom, Burger
Pens: Mason 3
DGs: Marx 2
Golden Lions: 15 Marais Schmidt, 14 Gideon Johannes Meiring, 13 Jacques Jehan Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Damian Courtney Engledoe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Percy Williams, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Stephan de Wit, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Ruan Christov Venter, 3 Nico Visser du Plessis, 2 Mark Pretorius (captain), 1 Devon Martinus.
Replacements: 16 Rikus van Niekerk, 17 Henri Boshoff, 18 David Jacobus Oosthuizen, 19 Albertus Stephanus Smith, 20 Wynand Johannes Venter, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Peter-John Walters.
Free State: 15 Marco Mason, 14 Maputha Dolo, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Niel Marais (captain), 11 Sethu Tom, 10 Noel Marx, 9 Stephen Griesel, 8 Henco Greyling, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Neil Claassen, 4 Wikus Davis, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Wickus Deysel, 1 Philip Rudolf Botha.
Replacements: 16 Ockert du Toit, 17 Carl van Heerden, 18 Philip Du Preez, 19 Tyron Schultz, 20 Kay-Kay Hlongwane, 21 Pieter Gerhard Morton, 22 Jan Jonathan Stephanus De Klerk.
Western Province 14-6 Blue Bulls
At the City Park Stadium in Cape Town, Western Province took advantage of their familiarity with the wet and cold conditions to defeat the Blue Bulls 14-6 for their second victory in as many weeks.
Both teams struggled to assert their authority in the unpleasant conditions, which resulted in a tight clash. The teams kicked two penalties a piece in the first half to enter the break tied at 6-6.
Western Province flyhalf Tim Swiel, however, pushed his team into the lead three minutes into the second half as he slotted over his third penalty of the day for a 9-6 lead.
With the team doing well to apply pressure on the Bulls, replacement flank Eital Bredenkamp earned the only try of the match in the 56th minute, which sealed the victory.
Pens: Swiel 3
Pens: Jantjies 2
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JP Lewis, 13 Patrick Howard, 12 Kobus van Wyk, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Sikumbuzo Notshe, 6 Joshua Katzen (captain), 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 Carel du Preez, 3 Justin Ackerman, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Johan Frederick Kirsten, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Jurie van Vuuren, 19 Cobus Nel, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Jean Nel, 22 Craig Barry.
Blue Bulls: 15 Damian van Wyk, 14 Jade Kyle Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Wiaan Liebenberg (captain), 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Schalk Van Heerden, 4 Johannes Casper Kirsten, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Johann Neethling Fouché.
Replacements: 16 Jason Thomas, 17 Christoph Gouws, 18 Dennis Visser, 19 Shaun Adendorff, 20 Kefentse Seshego Mahlo, 21 Malcolm Theo, 22 Christopher Bosch.
Leopards 26-17 Border
In Potchefstroom, the Leopards capitalised on their home ground advantage to outscore Border four tries to three for their first victory of the season.
The first half was thrilling as the teams ran in a total of five tries, with Leopards and SA under-20 fullback Sylvian Mahuza crashing over the line twice to add to flank Jaco Jordaan's opening try.
Flyhalf Jacobus du Plessis added two conversions, while his Border counterpart, centre Lukhanyo Am, missed his attempts. This handed the Leopards a 19-10 lead.
The home team wasted no time extending their lead in the second half, as No.8 Jaco Buys scored the bonus point try a minute after play resumed. The Leopards, however, were reduced to 14 men in the 50th minute as lock Ettienne Smith was sin-binned, which paved the way for Border to score their third try.
But with the Leopards boasting a good lead and the team putting their bodies on the line on defence, not even a second yellow card in the 68th minute could prevent them from securing the win.
Tries: Buys, Jordaan, Mahuza 2
Cons: Du Plessis 3
Tries: Smit, Adams, Ladendorf
Leopards: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Jean-Pieters du Plessis, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Tiaan Loots, 11 Wynand Olivier, 10 Jacobus Johannes du Plessis, 9 Jaco Grobler, 8 Jaco Buys, 7 Neil Loftus Morrison, 6 Jaco Jordaan, 5 Marno Redelinghuys, 4 Ettienne Smith, 3 Louwrens Strydom, 2 Armandt Stoman, 1 Arno Ebersohn (captain).
Replacements: 16 Eugene Le Maitre, 17 Johannes Theodorus Ferreira, 18 Erno Nagy, 19 Dean Andrew Basson, 20 Thomas Leon Meyer, 21 Ryno Smith, 22 Louis Vorster.
Border: 15 Leroy Afrika, 14 Angus Andrew Cleophas, 13 Riaan Van Zyl, 12 Lukhanyo Am, 11 Duane Adams, 10 Wayne Gardner, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ernst Ladendorf, 7 Christopher James Richardson, 6 Juan Bester (captain), 5 Marlyn Williams, 4 Sinjin Greyvenstein, 3 Nhlanhla Ngcamu, 2 Stephan Deyzel, 1 James Michael Flynn.
Replacements: 16 Nicol du Plessis, 17 Johannes le Roux du Plooy, 18 Johan Wagenaar, 19 Claude Jason Johannes, 20 Graham Patrick O'Leary, 21 Stephan Phuti Kekana, 22 Emihle Nande Baneti.
Standings (under headings games played, won, lost, drawn, points for, points against, tries for, tries against, log points):
Free State - 3 - 3 - 0 - 0 - 75 - 54 - 21 - 9 - 6 - 0 - 1 - 13
Western Province - 3 - 2 - 1 - 0 - 85 - 34 - 51 - 10 - 3 - 1 - 1 - 10
Sharks - 2 - 1 - 1 - 0 - 70 - 55 - 15 - 9 - 8 - 1 - 1 - 6
Blue Bulls - 2 - 1 - 1 - 0 - 65 - 31 - 34 - 7 - 3 - 0 - 1 - 5
Golden Lions U21 - 2 - 1 - 1 - 0 - 47 - 42 - 5 - 6 - 4 - 1 - 0 - 5
Leopards - 3 - 1 - 2 - 0 - 53 - 131 - -78 - 7 - 18 - 0 - 1 - 5
Border - 3 - 0 - 3 - 0 - 63 - 111 - -48 - 10 - 16 - 0 - 1 - 1