Last Friday afternoon's SA Rugby U20 Championship final between Griffons and EP Elephants did not disappoint. It was a fantastic game of running rugby and a true advertisement for the game – although it must be said that the teenagers were brilliant on attack but not so clinical on defence or ball retention.
The young men from Welkom came out the blocks like Usain Bolt chasing another world record, scoring three tries before the Eastern Cape side could reply. But being 22-0 down after almost as many minutes didn’t seem to bother the Elephants.
The EP side fought back with a brace of tries – both by the left wing, Curtley Deysel – to end the first half 29-12 down. Interestingly, the young winger appears to have been playing his first game of the season and he crossed again, early in the second stanza, for his hat-trick to get the Elephants to within 10 points.
Some five minutes later, a silly deliberate knock-on in a threatening situation earned Griffons player a yellow card, after which EP converted the penalty to close to within 7 points. But even down to 14 men, Griffons continued to attack and a few minutes later a dangerous tackle saw a second yellow and the Welkom boys were down to 13 men. Despite that, they continued to attack, eventually earning a penalty in the EP red zone to stretch the lead back to ten points.
It was only from the kick-off that the Elephants were able to capitalise on their numerical advantage, scoring another try from that phase of play and closing to within three points. But another Griffons try in the 66th minute stretched the lead to eight points and seemed to knock wind out the Elephants’ sails because that’s how the match ended: 37-29 in favour of the Welkom lads.