WP under 21’s kicked off their Absa Under 21 tournament with an extremely close encounter with Free State at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein. The U21’s came out on top 42-40, showing some passion and character in taking home the win.
The result gave the U21’s a boost in which saw them win the next 4 games on the trot and boast a unbeaten record of 5 matches. In the process beating the Blue Bulls at Newlands 27-16, thumping local rivals Boland 54-0, scraping a hard fought 20-19 win in Potchefstroom against the Leopards and comfortably beating the Lions 33-8 at Newlands.
After a great run of form the Under 21’s faced a tough outing to the Shark tank in Durban. With Lionel Cronje, Rynardt Elstadt, JJ Engelbrecht and Nick Koster stepping up and playing for the senior team, the U21’s had to play their best rugby in order to get a result.
In WP’s most disappointing of the season the Sharks ran out 41-14 victors. To make matters worse Rynardt Elstadt broke his finger and had to sit out on the side-line for the rest of the season.
Even the best teams in the world lose games, so Head Coach Rassie Erasmus spoke to the boys and made sure in practice they get their confidence back and returned to winning ways.
The coach's words of widom did the trick as not only did he get the team back to winning ways but he made sure that was the U21’s last loss on the road to the final.
The next week WP hosted Free State at home and got back to winning ways thanks to a last minute Gary Van Aswegen penalty which gave his team a 40-39 win. Gary was prolific with the boot slotting 7 penalties and 2 conversions. The next 3 weeks saw the side gain three more comfortable wins against the Leopards at Newlands 59-17, the Lions at Coca-Cola park 55-37 and a easy disposing of Boland 111-0 in Wellington.
Then came the young team's biggest challenge of the campaign, a trip to Pretoria to play the Bulls at Loftus. A daunting task for any team especially when you are playing for first place on the log, this had all the ingredients to be a cracking game of rugby.
The U21’s showed determination and guts in erasing a deficit four times in the pulsating game to win 42-38. Danie Poolman showing his class with a hatrick hero performance.
Saturday 9th of October saw WP play The Sharks for the first place on the log spot. It was great to see WP get one back on the Sharks and proved the statement ‘whoever laughs last, laughs the most’ when a full strength side including Koster and Engelbrecht were just too good for the team from Durban thrashing them 36-9.
This saw WP U21’s end the league fixtures on top of the log with the Blue Bulls 2nd, Sharks 3rd and Free State 4th. Province only lost one game alls eason and they also had the best defensive statistics in the tournament.
Semi-Final day came around and a filling up Newlands stadium got to witness a thrilling game of rugby with Province taking on Free State. An exciting clash saw the scores level after full time, then the score’s level on 49 all after 20 minutes of extra times. Luckily for our boys the 6 tries they scored compared to Free State's 5 proved to be the tie-breaker and saw Rassie's men through to the final.
In the other semi-final the Blue Bulls beat the Sharks to advance to the finals.
A special congratulations must go out to JJ Engelbrecht, Rynardt Elstadt, Nick Koster, Gary Van Aswegen, Yaya Hatzenberg and Lionel Cronje for representing their Vodacom WP senior team in this year’s Absa Currie Cup.
Rassie Erasmus is very proud of his team and what they have accomplished, the final will take place on the 30th of October at the Absa Dtadium in Durban at 14.30pm.