Border hold off spirited Zimbabwe challenge

Border centre Ncute Kepe scores against Zimbabwe in the Grant Khomo Under-16 Rugby Week in Gqeberha on Monday
FLYING OVER: Border centre Ncute Kepe scores against Zimbabwe in the Grant Khomo Under-16 Rugby Week in Gqeberha on Monday

Border held off a spirited challenge from their Zimbabwe opponents to make a successful start to the Under-16 Grant Khomo Rugby Week with a 26-20 victory at Grey High in Gqeberha on Monday.

Unfortunately, Border Country Districts did not enjoy the same result, going down 29-7 to the Free State XV in the opening match on the Pollock Oval.

Yet it was an encouraging effort by the Country Districts team as they held their opponents to 7-7 at halftime.

But the Free State pressure told and Border CD conceded a penalty try to trail 14-7 before their opponents piled on the agony with three tries in the last eight minutes for an ultimately convincing result.

Border had a proper battle against their Zimbabwe rivals and owed their victory to a profitable period soon after halftime when they scored two converted tries to turn a narrow four-point lead to a more manageable gap of 16 points.

It was just as well they built up this cushion because the Zimbabwe players showed admirable fighting qualities and a willingness to run the ball in the closing stages, crossing for two tries to add some respectability to the total.

In the first half, Border centre Ncute Kepe opened the scoring with a thrilling 70m run as Zimbabwe, on attack, knocked the ball on deep in their opponents’ territory and possession was turned over.

Kepe was again at it just before halftime, forcing his way over for his second try to put them 12-8 ahead at the break.

In the opening match on the Kolisi Field, the Pumas were swiftly into their stride against Griquas, who could not get out of their half for much of the first period.

The Kimberley-based side trailed 20-0 at the break and though they found better rhythm later in the match to score two tries, the Pumas never relinquished their grip on the contest and ran out comfortable 39-14 winners.

The clash between Boland and the Lions was a cracking affair that went down to the wire as the Lions made a desperate bid to snatch victory.

Trailing 21-16, the Lions needed a converted try to win after a commendable fightback from a 15-3 deficit at the break.

They were given a glimmer of hope when awarded a penalty, which they kicked into touch for a line-out 20 metres out.

From there, though, a movement through the backline broke down with a knock-on, creating a moment of ecstasy for the Bolanders.

The early opening day results were:

Free State XV bt Border Country Districts 29-7

Griffons bt Valke 17-15

Border bt Zimbabwe 26-20

Pumas bt Griquas 39-14

Boland bt Lions 21-16



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