The FNB Tuks Young Guns managed to retain their Young Guns title, seeing off a strong Steinhoff Junior Maties comeback to win 42-37 in Cape Town on Monday evening.
After a cagey start to the game, it was FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns who found an early lead through winger Zandre Kruger. The winger found space down the line after a mistimed pass fell fortuitously in his path and he ran the ball over to give FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns an early lead.
Steinhoff Junior Maties were unfortunate to see themselves a man down after Daniel Froneman was sent to the sin bin for an infringement on an opponent. The numerical disadvantage did not deter the men from Stellenbosch who found a quick response just five minutes after going a man down. Troy Payne capped off a great move as he crossed over the whitewash to give Steinhoff Junior Maties an 8-5 lead going into the first strategy break.
Immediately after the break FNB UP-Tuks found a breakthrough when Ettiene Janeke crossed over the line. Boshoff converted the try to restore his teams lead. At this point it promised to be a high scoring affair as both teams were looking sharp in attack. Steinhoff Maties were not to be outdone by their counterparts and were matching them pound for pound. Matt Dahl put his name on the score sheet with a try of his own on the 28th minute to put his side ahead.
Shane Farmer also got into the thick of things with a try of his own that saw his team take a 21-13 lead. FNB UP-Tuks found energy in the final minute of the half and Earl Douwrie restored parity in Cape Town as his try took the scores to 21-21 at the half-time break.
The boys from Pretoria were quick off the starting blocks in the second half and winger Litha Nkula added his name to the score sheet with a try that took his team’s lead to 26-21. After great pressure from FNB UP-Tuks the FNB Maties defence crumbled and the Pretoria outfit were awarded a penalty try. To give extend their lead to 34 – 21.
It looked as though FNB UP-Tuks were running away with the contest but their opponents were not taking it lying down. Brad Kiewitz scored a try and with the conversion of Pierre du Toit reduced the score to 29-34. Every time FNB Maties got close, FNB UP-Tuks kept pulling away from them and they did so again after Litha Nkula got his second try of the game to propel his side to a 42-29 lead after 56 minutes.
A match is never over until the final whistle and that seemed like the spirit the Stellenbosch boys had. JP Duvenhage pulled one back to bring for his team FNB Maties to narrow the scores down to 37-42. That try made for a nervous last couple of minutes as a converted try would have given Steinhoff Junior Maties the lead but FNB UP-Tuks managed to hold off the comeback and were deservedly crowned 2017 Young Guns champions.
FNB Player that Rocks: Earl Douwrie (FNB Tuks)
FNB UP-Tuks: 42
Tries: Zandre Kruger, Ettiene Janeke, Earl Douwrie, Litha Nkula (2), Penalty Try.
Conversions: Theo Boshoff (3), Penalty Try
FNB Maties Young Guns: 37
Tries: Troy Payne, Matt Dahl, Shane Farmer, Brad Kiewitz, JP Duvenhage
Conversions: Pierre du Toit (4)
FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns: 1 Janeke Louis, 2 Fourie Werner, 3 Mukhari Bhekizizwe, 4 Burger Adriaan, 5 Groenewald Johan, 6 Jacobus Bezuidenhout, 7 Junior mafu, 8 John-Michael Hayes, 9 Cowan Allderman, 10 Theo Boshoff, 11 Siyasanga Nkula, 12 Lategan Hamman, 13 Wian van Niekerk, 14 Zandre Kruger, 15 Earl Douwrie
Replacements: 16 Robert Wessels, 17 Xavier Fortuin, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Mitchell Booysen, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Jerome Bossr, 22 Ali Irvin, 23 Louis Moyo
Steinhoff Junior Maties: 1 Ezenwa Nwagbara, 2 Shane Farmer, 3 Roux Swart, 4 Albertus Liebernberg, Daniel Froneman, 6 Johan Visser, 7 Thomas Meyer, 8 Dean Schwarts, 9 Jon Dahl, 10 Adriaan van de Bank, 11 Jynn-Jay Hendricks, 12 Petrus Duvenhage, 13 Troy Payne, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, Pierre du Toit
Replacements: 16 Daniel Steinmann, 17 Jacob du Toit, 18 Stephan Fourie, 19 Nevada Jacobs, 20 Erasmus Burger, 21 Jurgens van Schalkwyk, 22 Mario Saal, 23 Evan Kiewitz
By Thulani Mkosi